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LTTE: Gaps in internet access for all need to be filled

Published April 9, 2020

Yesterday’s announcement from Governor Inslee and State Superintendent Chris Reykdal of the closure of school buildings for the remainder of the school year was hard to hear.  No one, not even those people at the top of our state government or public education system have all the answers to what the rest of this academic year, or next year, is going to look like.  Within the Ferndale School District, we also have the question of levy funding, creating even more uncertainty, more planning, and more work to be done.

As we transition to distance learning, connection between teachers, their students, and the students’ families is very important.  This pandemic has revealed the differences in accessible internet connection, whether it’s due to socioeconomic status, quality of service, or geography of where students live.  Access to the internet is NOT something that the Ferndale School District can solve alone.  We do not have the funds to provide devices for every student, or hotspots throughout our large district, and certainly not to build the infrastructure needed.  That responsibility lies on a variety of levels—the Port of Bellingham, the State, and Federal governments.  Connectivity would benefit our economy and all people in our society, whether you have children in the public school system or not.  We all need to work together to pressure our local, state, and federal governments to provide access to internet connection. 

During the press conference yesterday, Chris Reykdal, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said, “From the seeds of crisis come the strong, strong roots and blossom of innovation.  We will never replace face to face learning, but right now, this is our moment to connect every family, and (make) it as much of a right to be connected as clean water.”  I agree with Superintendent Reykdal and believe that this is an opportunity for Americans, Washingtonians, and for the Ferndale School District to innovate. 

Within our school district, we need to ask thoughtful questions about the development of distance learning that best suits our school district.  Our leaders, from teachers and staff, to Superintendent Quinn and her administration, are working to create a program that is resilient and effective for our students.  Let us assume good intent, encourage their work, and ask thoughtful questions along the way.  In short, let’s support them, in words, deeds, and funds. 

Melinda Cool
Ferndale
Ferndale School Board Director, Position 2


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