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Lack of High Speed Internet Hindered Distance Learning in Western MD

June 18th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

To slow the spread of COVID-19, all Maryland public schools closed in mid-March, and at that point turned to distance learning programs. Under guidance from the state education department, the Allegany County Public School system implemented the Continuity of Learning program, providing remote instruction for students. A lack of internet service in some parts of the county- combined with affordability issues- proved somewhat challenging as the local school system worked to provide the final three months of instruction. According to the latest data, 93% of Marylanders in urban areas have access to high-speed internet. That percentage drops to 68% in rural areas.  With a great deal of uncertainty remaining as to what the public school system will look like come fall- Allegany County Board of Education President Tammy Fraley said its important that a coordinated effort begin with county and state officials to find a solution…

18 Responses to “Lack of High Speed Internet Hindered Distance Learning in Western MD”

  1. June 18, 2020 at 6:30 am, mac said:

    All of the recent hand-wringing and mournful looks by ‘politicians’ and others in the elected gang of idiots is coming way too late to be of any help now that it’s really needed.
    This is another of those election time goals and promises that are right around the corner but never seem to materialize.
    One problem is that these agenda items are always classified as a ‘rural’ initiative or a ‘rural’ feasibility study. As soon as that word is seen those who actually make the decisions and pass out the money they just pass it off as wasting money on pig farmers or others you find in the spaces between real populated areas.
    Once each year our area glad-handers and other smiling boobs head to the big city for the annual Pace reception where they wine and dine actual quality folk in the hopes of proving that first, we actually wear shoes out here and second, we will be so very happy to be remembered when the next budget is approved. It’s pitiful.
    It’s time to start demanding that us rural types really enter the 21st century and this issue is at the top of the list.

    Reply

    • June 18, 2020 at 7:49 am, Bob said:

      > Rather than whining and dining in hopes of a handout we should just get it on our own. The folks in Bethesda and Chevy Chase do not get theirs as the result of some government budget line item. I suspect it is available to pretty much everyone here; everyone if you count DSL which is more than adequate for distance learning. One just needs to subscribe to it.

      Reply

      • June 18, 2020 at 9:45 am, Mark said:

        > Easy for you to say. Did you know that most every place that hires does so through the internet? Some unemployed people can’t even apply for a job because they have NO income to afford the net. A catch-22. Your ‘privilege’ is showing.

        Reply

        • June 18, 2020 at 1:46 pm, Bob said:

          > Another day, another non-sequitur out of comrade Mark. The topic here is internet for school children, not job-seekers. Pay attention sport.

          Reply

          • June 19, 2020 at 4:33 am, Mark said:

            > No Bob, the subject is WHY we have NO good internet choices for children & everyone else. God, are you really that obtuse??? You are walking proof of how the education system has failed us all. Good job Bob!

          • June 19, 2020 at 5:00 am, Mark said:

            > I had to laugh that Bob thinks there’s such a thing as ‘internet for children only’ but then I realized that in his family, some children are probably the only ones smart enough to use it. So I guess it makes sense to him. lmao

  2. June 18, 2020 at 7:00 am, Citizen said:

    As a parent with a child who has access to internet the continuation of learning program had much bigger issues than internet accessibility. The platform used was redundant and only 2 of my child’s classes had pages that he could interact with and complete his work on. All the others required him to recreate the lesson on another document and submit it that way. Double the work. Not to mention as an essential worker at a medical facility I could not be there to help homeschool. There was no structure to create student accountability on a daily basis. Not even roll call. If this must continue for next year I plead with educators to use a different platform not only for continuity but my child felt communicating with his teachers cumbersome. Very few responded timely. I would suggest a video platform. A virtual school day. Zoom has them. Google classroom has them. We need something better in place. It was a nightmare.

    Reply

    • June 18, 2020 at 7:35 am, mac said:

      > Part of that problem is the State of Maryland being involved. I don’t know if they use an off the shelf program or had some tech boffin put one together but one thing I do know is that if the State oversees it there will be problems.
      When the Maryland Health Exchange was set up to add people to the ACA rolls the website regularly froze up, threw people out and was just generally unresponsive. Despite assurances these problems continued for weeks on end.
      Fast forward to today. It is still extremely difficult to sign up for unemployment benefits and at the last count 75,000 cases were hung up in the system. Once again there is recognition of the problem and assurances the people are working on it. But who is doing the work and how many are involved? The State will not comment.
      I’m sure that, by the time they straighten out the kinks, none of it will be needed.

      Reply

  3. June 18, 2020 at 8:55 am, LRH said:

    I will start by saying I know little to nothing about how “high speed internet” works. My question/comment is, why is this STILL an issue? Several years ago I believe they ran some sort of cable up the middle of I-68 in the name of “high speed internet” and this has been a legislative agenda item at PACE for at least the past 10 or more years. How long does it take to milk this cow? I also, agree with the sentiment that if you want it, pay for it. But I am sure there are those who feel high speed internet is some sort of civil right entitlement.

    Reply

    • June 18, 2020 at 9:09 am, mac said:

      > The biggest difficulty in rural areas is building out the infrastructure. In any city houses line a street and a cable can have drops to each house by being tapped at the pole.
      Rural areas differ as houses are sometimes spread far apart with many fewer houses down any individual road.
      It takes much more cable, with longer runs between each drop and that all adds up in materials and labor.
      Fiber optic is fastest but it is also the most costly. In this area cable is used the same as cable TV.
      Elon Musk is promising a lot but it’s unproven.
      Cell towers can provide service but there are dead zones that the towers can’t reach so unless we get more towers that’s out.
      It all boils down to a commitment to provide service one way or another. Of course it will cost only a fool would expect to get it for free.

      Reply

  4. June 18, 2020 at 9:40 am, Virgil said:

    Under the circumstances our school system did their best. One problem is that we expect the government to solve everything. I am aware of several families who had non working parents that made zero effort to assist but plenty of energy spent complaining.

    Reply

  5. June 18, 2020 at 9:42 am, Mark said:

    As always it boils down to ‘control’ and ‘money’. All across America the federal and local government has surrendered price & access to the internet to the for profit industry, who’s only interest is in providing cheap (slow) service at extreme prices. We had this SAME problem with electricity years ago until the government (in the interest of the public good) regulated power companies and worked to provide electric to rural areas, including doing it themselves when private industry wouldn’t (see the TVA) As long as the politicians of BOTH PARTIES keep selling us out to greedy providers in exchange for legal bribes (franchise fees & campaign donations) it will never change. Even though internet access has become a vital and necessary service for every day tasks. Anyone who’s ever been overseas knows what a sick joke our internet here is.

    Reply

    • June 18, 2020 at 9:47 am, mac said:

      > Yes, all true. Internet service should be treated as a utility and fall under the PSC.

      Reply

      • June 19, 2020 at 4:27 am, Mark said:

        > Agree!!!

        Reply

    • June 19, 2020 at 10:07 am, LRH said:

      > Finally, i agree with most of what you say here. I am all for re-regulating electricity, phones, and the nut houses. We can add in cable TV and internet as well.

      Reply

      • June 19, 2020 at 10:51 am, Mark said:

        > Yes, LRH, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a great while! lol

        Reply

  6. June 18, 2020 at 1:19 pm, Citizen said:

    Just a side note. Internet was made available free of cost. All one had to do was pull into the school parking lot and WiFi was available. Incidentally after my shifts daily at work, I spent hours With my child every evening. And sometimes 8 hours on Saturday’s. I’m not complaining. I’m merely suggesting a different approach to assist with the very possibility that distance learning may need to continue this fall.

    Reply

  7. June 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm, Jason said:

    Nearly 100 years ago, the issue was electricity:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Electrification_Act

    Reply

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