Skubick: What’s being done to close the digital divide among MI students

Michigan

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – As parents and educators around the state grapple with how to re-open our schools, there is some very good news tonight for worried parents on the virual education front.

It appears that the bulk of the schools in this region have decided to keep the school doors locked for the moment and keep kids at home for digital learning.

But prior to the pandemic, 30% of the students in the state did not have a device to participate in the visual education process.

That’s a huge number that obviously puts those students at a disadvantage.

State school superintendent Dr. Michael Rice says, “we have closed the device gap we think fairly significantly.”

To be sure the gap is not closed but more students will have the devices now than they did when the schools were shuttered last March.

How did this happen?

“Mostly by local districts and to a lesser degree by philanthropy or by state grants,” Dr. Rice explains.

But having an iPad in your hands means nothing unless the families are connected to the Internet and 30% are not.

“The connectivity has narrowed in the short term but it is by no means being closed,” adds Dr. Rice.

“We believe it’s just a matter of time to form the partnerships to close these gaps.”

The governor recently allocated $65 million, in part, to provide Internet access to the have nots.

And the state board of education has kicked in another $37 million in part to do the same.

So as most of the classrooms around here remain empty, at least at home more students will be online than before.  

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