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Cedar Rapids School District seeing increase in need at student internet hubs

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 6:02 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Many families in Cedar Rapids are still dealing with not having internet or cable and that’s caused some troubles for families in the Cedar Rapids Community School District as the first day of school kicked off Monday.

“First day was interesting that’s for sure," Allison Hart, a parent of three in the district, said.

Day one, back-to-school came with obstacles for families like Hart’s. She has two kids attending Kennedy High School and one at Franklin Middle School. Both are closed due to damage. Hart said, aside from that, they are still without internet.

“We have Mediacom, and we’re on day 42, or, day 43 something like that with no internet,” Hart said.

They were given a hotspot from one of the schools but had issues with that.

“It worked well last week. It struggled yesterday with all three kids on,” Hart said. “They were not able to use the hotspot on the first day.”

Luckily, they did have another option. They finished their work out of one of the student internet hubs at First Lutheran Church, and two of her kids were back there Tuesday.

“Its been great that they offer multiple alternatives between the hotspots and in-person sites," Hart said. “And then, they are also delivering lunches which is nice, because when the kids had to pack up and go all of a sudden they didn’t bring food."

Hart said the only minor setback is that the kids' classes start at 7:50 a.m. and the sites don’t open until 8:00 a.m., but the district says those children won’t be counted as late.

“We wanted to make sure since we had given people choices and with derecho and some buildings not being accessible. We wanted to make sure people had the opportunity to send their students to a location where they could have internet and resources we are providing through our staff," Nicole Kooiker, district deputy superintendent, said.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library is also one of the hubs, where students experiencing issues like this can go to and get free wi-fi access and teacher help.

“Adults are here helping them connect, get online connect with teachers and even that social-emotional connection, which is really important," Kooiker said. “We had a mom and parent in here today that were really struggling getting on yesterday, so they came to just get support, and once they figure it out they’ll go back home, but it’s really for everybody."

On day one, Kooiker said 73 students made use of one of their seven hubs. Tuesday, they had just under 100 students and served 80 meals at sites. Kooiker said there were some glitches with internet access the first day but said they are continuing to work through the challenges with parents.

For Hart, she said her kids will keep using the sites for now, until they get a new hotspot from the district.

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