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Poor internet connection transforming parking lots into virtual learning hubs

Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 8:01 PM EDT
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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - On Monday, Tara Stevens and her daughter Alela pulled into the parking lot to complete her school work.

Getting the internet at the Stevens' home has always been a struggle, but one they could manage with spaced-out use. With the increased demand for strong connection due to virtual learning and working from home, it’s causing more of a headache.

Alela Stevens spends two days a week in a classroom, and her virtual learning days the parking lot of Zoar Baptist Church to use the WiFi hotspot.

“I was in the car one time for five or six hours one day,” said Alela, who’s a ninth-grader.

Her mother added, “We’re here most days until the battery dies, and then she’ll go home and charge it. Sometimes if there’s still work to get done, we’ll come back later in the evening.”

And after facing poor internet connection in the spring, the Stevens switched their internet provider in hope of finding more reliable service -- a hope that’s fallen short when the family has multiple users online.

“My son was trying to do a five-question quiz the other day. He thought he could just do it at home. It was only five questions, no big deal,” Tara said. " He got to the second question, and everyone had to turn their WiFi off because it wasn’t loading. He would have been kicked out and failed the quiz had we not gotten off."

The feeling of frustration keeps building as the Stevens family continues with Cabell County Schools' blended model of learning.

“When you have four or five kids trying to log in to do work-- it’s a struggle, no matter where you are or what kind of internet you have,” Tara Stevens said.

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