COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Teachers and students all over North Carolina have moved to distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some in rural areas of the Cape Fear are facing challenges when it comes to reliable internet connection.
“At the beginning of the year, our school was hacked and we didn’t have any internet," said Myra Creech, a fifth grade teacher for Columbus County Schools. "And then, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other. But it was totally different trying to do all this from home with children who don’t have access to the internet at all.”
She, like many of her students and colleagues, has issues with her internet connection.
Columbus County Schools has given students and teachers resources to get their work done, but it’s not enough.
“While not a requirement, it is very challenging to be an educational professional in the 21st century without connectivity,” said Kelly Jones, a spokesperson for Columbus County Schools.
Hotspots are available for public use in the parking lots of schools, libraries, and even churches throughout the county.
“I think that people having access to high-speed Internet it should be available to all people know matter where you live," said Creech. "Just like we have electricity in this day and time it’s a necessity.”
Creech knows getting work done in her classroom is always an option, but she is trying to limit her time outside her home in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to her husband and her parents. She says the internet at her home doesn’t work when there’s inclement weather. She says it also gets worse throughout the day, so she’s having to get creative to get work done.
“I got up this morning at 4:30 and started grading papers," said Creech. “Because if I wait until 8 to 10 in the morning, it’s very difficult because things that should take me 30 seconds, take me 3 or 4 minutes so if I don’t get up early to get it done, it’s not going to get done.”
She knows many students are in the same boat, but understands that some don’t have the means to drive to a parking lot to use the public WiFi.
“I feel like they’re not getting everything they need," said Creech. "We’re trying. They are trying, but we do miss something with that face to face especially with elementary students. We’re getting it done we just got to be more creative and we’re doing it very differently.”
“In general online instruction is going well, due mainly to our teachers ability to adapt to these historic times,” said Jones. "Any student who cannot get on the internet for whatever reason may get paper-based instruction from the school."
Jones says additional hotpots from another provider are coming next week and will hopefully help those in the areas where coverage is spotty.