Kenowa Hills Public Schools has partnered with Sprint to cover every single student who did not previously have internet access. This proactive contract was made possible due to the early efforts of Superintendent Jerry Hopkins and school board trustee Eric-John Szczepaniak.
After learning about the "homework gap" at a school board conference, Szczepaniak shared the importance of tackling this crisis in our community before the outbreak of COVID-19. Of course, this pandemic has only exacerbated the digital divide. Superintendent Hopkins surveyed the community to find that 6% of KH students lacked adequate internet access.
Once COVID-19 forced the closure of all schools, Hopkins worked to get every student access immediately. Even though Kenowa Hills has been a 1-to-1 district for several years, where every child receives a device, we know that our learners and educators need access to connect with one another during these times. At the forefront of Kenowa Hills' continuation of learning plan is connection to students. Internet access is essential to meet this end.
While Kenowa Hills sits in a largely metropolitan Kent County, many districts across the state and nation face an uphill, sometimes impossible, battle in getting students connected. Local governments, states and the federal government should work to establish internet access as a right to position all of our kids to fully participate in our global economy and life.
Eric-John Szczepaniak serves as a trustee for the Kenowa Hills school board and the President of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.