Digital divide affects thousands of Guilford County Schools students

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — More than 40,000 students have yet to sign on to the remote learning system in Guilford County.

That’s more than half of the students currently enrolled in the district.

Part of the reason may be because they don’t have the tools to connect.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras spent Tuesday morning pleading to lawmakers to fight for free internet service or a very reduced rate so students across the state can stay connected and get the education they deserve.

For the first time, Yasmine Morrow will file for unemployment. She used to work the night shift at a pizza shop but left after schools closed to care for her 4-year-old daughter.

“This is a different type of crisis here. You don’t have anywhere to work and then you’ve got to pay for all this other stuff. It’s a lot,” said Morrow, a GCS parent.

The stress of making ends meet and making sure her daughter has the internet for her schoolwork is taking its toll.

They have a school-issued laptop but she is unable to access the remote learning system from it.

“It’s just sitting in there collecting dust right now,” Morrow said.

They tried to use their tablet but that has problems too.

“It keeps going in and out so she’s like, ‘Mommy it’s not working.’ But then she’ll be like, ‘Oh it’s working,’ and it’s like every five minutes. She’s not getting anything done because she’s focused on it stopping and starting,” Morrow said.

Morrow’s family is one of thousands in the GCS district having trouble with little to no internet access.

“It’s terrible because that’s a whole bunch of kids not learning. If they’re not learning stuff how are they going to become brighter in the future?” Morrow said.

District leaders tell FOX8 they’re working with local universities to borrow hotspots and set them up in more school parking lots. They are also using a grant to put them on buses they plan to drive into neighborhoods where internet is a challenge. Parents are urged to reach out to their child’s teacher if they have a problem accessing their work.

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