Clear Creek ISD has partnered with area nonprofits to address inequities in distance learning brought to light by the coronavirus pandemic.
The current remote instruction setup has brought to the forefront challenges faced by students without internet access at home, district officials said in a May 14 news release. Prior to the pandemic, CCISD’s economically disadvantaged population was higher than 28%. The Clear Creek Education Foundation funded internet Wi-Fi hot spots for families facing extreme economic hardship as a result of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions.
The hot spots are prepaid phones, without calling capability, that have been repurposed to provide students the ability to access a filtered internet and CCISD learning platforms. The foundation underwrote $11,700 to purchase the phones, which benefit more than 150 families—several with two or more children in one household, per the release.
“One of the five funding priorities of CCEF is to enrich student learning,” said Katy Bastedo, the chair of the Clear Creek Education Foundation, in the release, “but in this time of distance learning environments, the Foundation understood that every child first needs to get through the doorway that leads to those critical learning resources.”
CCISD officials are grateful for the foundation’s attention to students whose success depends on their access to innovative learning opportunities, Chief Technology Officer Robert Bayard said in the release.
From the early days of countywide stay-at-home orders, CCISD began communicating with families the various ways in which they could find and connect to available access points. To determine if an internet access barrier still exists, teachers regularly reach out to students and parents who are not responding to communications or submitting assignments, per the release. Teachers worked with counselors and the district’s technology department to identify students in need of support and safely distribute the devices.
Bay Area Turning Point also works with numerous CCISD families at three different campuses, Programs Director Wykesha Kelley-Dixon said. The nonprofit, which provides crisis intervention, advocacy, shelter and counseling services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, recently put on a training for 45 district faculty and staff members about domestic violence and COVID-19, Kelley-Dixon said.
The nonprofit is providing housing for several homeless CCISD students, Superintendent Greg Smith said at an April 23 webinar. Having the hot spots has been a big help for the students, Kelley-Dixon said, adding a BATP staff member is also picking up and distributing schoolwork packets to clients in need.
“They’re always trying to figure out ways on how to best support the students and the families in the situations they’re going through,” Kelley-Dixon said of CCISD officials. “I just genuinely appreciate their heart for the kids that we serve.”