On Sunday, the Portage Area School District announced that a member of the district tested positive for COVID-19. As a precaution the high school moved to remote learning.
District superintendent, Eric Zelanko, says that did create a challenge for students as some don’t have access to a laptop or even WiFi.
Zelanko says they’ve given 110 laptops out to students so far and plan to distribute more soon on top of providing students with free WiFi hotspots. The costs are all covered by the district.
“In this situation we would look at some of the federal money some of the cares money to fund that program. We anticipate buying a dozen or two dozen devices to start out our families. we have approximately 10% of our households that lack broadband access,” said Zelanko.
Zelanko says the WiFi hotspots are through a partnership with T-Mobile, which works on giving students internet access.
“We have been able to put those out to our students and right now we have one of those devices that is active in a family and that is going very well. Both students have been able to remain home and participate online,” said high school principal Ralph Cecere.
The district has decided that Portage Area High School students will transition back to their hybrid learning model on Monday, October 5th.
Zelanko says that anyone who is currently quarantined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health is expected to continue with remote learning. The school district has also requested quarantined individuals submit a COVID-19 test before returning to school at the end of their quarantine period.
Regardless of a negative test result, Zelanko says students cannot attend school or extracurricular activities during their quarantine period.
Moving forward, Zelanko and Cercere say they hope to connect even more students with the free WiFi hotspots to help them with remote learning.