1 out of 5 NY metro households have no high-speed internet. What does that mean for remote learning?
For the past few weekdays, Crystal Berroa woke up in the morning not knowing how to help her two young daughters attend school remotely.
Berroa lives in a shelter in New York City and repeatedly tried to contact school officials to help her daughters log into remote learning classrooms on school-issued iPads.
So far, she hasn’t gotten anywhere.
”If one (iPad) connects and the other doesn’t, I’m screwed,” Berroa said. “There’s nothing I can do. Sometimes it doesn’t connect at all during the day. My daughter is a first grader. She’s learning how to read right now. And I have no idea what’s going on.”
Berroa’s family is one of thousands across New York who have struggled with the transition to remote learning because of internet access or connectivity issues in metropolitan areas.
The problem is amplified this school year by the COVID-19 pandemic that forced New York’s largest school districts to start the fall semester online, often in the state’s poorest communities.
For the past five years, New York has focused on rural broadband, awarding grants to small internet providers to bring a stable connection to remote corners of New York.
But even the largest cities have dead zones, with no major internet providers available. In areas where service is available, it may be unreliable or too expensive for some families to afford.
With many school districts conducting