Erin Hinrichs

Distance learning while homeless in the Twin Cities: It’s complicated and challenging

Prior to the pandemic and resulting shift to distance learning, the St. Paul Public Schools district had already deployed a one-to-one iPad program, districtwide. District staff still had to troubleshoot internet access issues with families — and efforts have been made to help deliver hotspots and devices to students who may be doubled up with other families in neighboring communities.

Minnesota state efforts to close internet gap hampering distance learning aren’t being expedited — at least for now

Using data collected from providers across the state, many Minnesotans live in areas that are underserved or unserved — meaning they have inadequate downloading and uploading speeds or no access at all. In addition, there are households that show up as being covered in this map that are actually unserved. Getting a clear count on just how many Minnesota students are lacking adequate broadband access, however, has proven to be a challenge.

Lack of broadband access adds to challenges for school districts in Greater Minnesota

Students in the Blue Earth (MN) Area Schools district are staying connected with their school communities through a spirit week challenge posted on the district’s Facebook page that’s already been shared 80 times. When it comes to ensuring equitable access to lessons, however, Superintendent Mandy Fletcher says she and her staff are having to put a lot more thought into how they plan to use online platforms. The district became a one-to-one district several years ago. It currently has enough Chromebooks to pair each student in grades 3-12 with their own device.