MADISON, Ala. – Madison County Schools estimate that 30% or more of its students won’t have access to the internet when school starts virtually. While the school system is working to bridge the virtual learning gap, a Madison County Commissioner is also trying to do his part to help students in his district.
“When Madison County School System said they were going to go to virtual school, I realized that that was going to probably have some issues with it,” says Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver.
Right now the community center gyms in District Four aren’t being used for sports, and Vandiver says when he realized the centers were being used to their fullest potential, he knew the answer was to open it up for students to come use their WiFi for school work.
“We have good internet service here. Why don’t we take that and expand it a little bit and make sure we get good service in the gym, make sure we can get good service in the classroom,” says Vandiver.
Vandiver says it will cost 8 to 10 thousand dollars to beef up the WiFi and add copy machines to the two community centers in his district.
“If we can help the kids get a better education I think that is cheap and we are just glad to be a part of it,” says Vandiver.
He will split the price with Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, senator Tim Melson, Senator Tom Butler and Representative Andy Whitt.
“We all said let’s just divide it up in a pie and share in the cost equally and we’ll make this thing work,” says Vandiver.
Vandiver says they are also looking at the possibility of having tutors available at community centers on an as needed basis.
Both the Monrovia and Madison Cross Roads community centers will require students to wear masks and remain socially distant. Students are allowed to stay in the centers and work as long as needed during the day, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
Madison County Schools say their system is doing everything they can to meet the needs of students during virtual learning.
The district has a 1:1 Chromebook initiative meaning all students have technology to take home, but internet service for all is a challenge in Madison County.
90 busses with wifi will be strategically placed throughout the county for students to use as mobile hotspots.
And now all 29 campuses in the district are now equipped with wifi strong enough for students to access from the parking lot.