Remote learning difficult for rural Manitoba students with poor internet

By | September 19, 2020

WINNIPEG — Students across Manitoba finished up their first full week of classes but not all kids have spent the entire week physically in school.

Many high school students are splitting time between in-class education and remote learning, something that is proving to be a challenge for some families living in rural areas.

High school student Caleb Simeonidis was on one of his remote learning days Friday and couldn’t connect to the internet.

“I can go to the school website, but when I try and load TEAMS it doesn’t load,” said Simeonidis, “It just sits there for like an hour.”

Spotty internet has been a big problem for the East Selkirk student.

“The streaming quality is too high to support our internet that we currently have,” said Christine Simeonidis, Caleb’s mother. “They’re unable to even attend the classes unless we run hot spots off of our phone.”

Connectivity is a major cause of concern for Lord Selkirk School Division, which has roughly 4000 students spread out in communities such as Selkirk, Clandeboye and Victoria Beach.

“One of our biggest issues we have is to make sure we have and maintain connection with kids,” said Jerret Long, superintendent of Lord Selkirk School Division.

Long said the division realized internet connectivity would be a problem for some of its students during the school suspension in March. 

“In a scenario where a student wasn’t able to log on to the internet to see a live real-time lesson, some teachers were able to put that onto a flash drive,” he said. 

That lesson was then couriered to the students by school bus.

Long said they’re looking into doing something similar now for students like Caleb Simeonidis, who are just trying to get by.

“We run hotspots,” said Christine Simeonidis, “We pay 150 dollars a month for phones so we can get extra data in that way.” 

The Lord Selkirk School Division said the deliveries could go both ways. When the students complete their work, the school bus drivers pick it up and bring it to the school.

A statement to CTV News from the province read, “All students and families with technology issues should share these concerns with their schools and school divisions so adjustment and accommodations can be made.”

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