Some rural students face challenge of lack of internet access in Augusta schools

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AUGUSTA, Wis. (WEAU) -- As the school year begins, some students in rural parts of western Wisconsin are faced with unique challenges, like the lack of internet access.

24% of rural Americans do not have access to high speed internet according to a 2018 Pew Research Study.

The lack of internet access is an issue for some students in the Augusta Area School District according to Superintendent Ryan Nelson.

“That’s something that we as educators in the school system need to be really conscientious of,” says Nelson.

At Augusta Schools, there are some accommodations for students without consistent internet access. For example, students can rent out a "hotspot" device to take home. However, that device only works in areas with the potential for internet connection. Some students live in places without even the potential to connect to internet. Because of this, the school plans to continue making strides to meet the digital needs of students.

“We have a comprehensive “future ready” plan in place so that we can continue to help students be prepared to live in the 21st century and part of that includes working with other local organizations and partnerships to expand access and resources for students so they are digitally prepared and ready to succeed as they graduate from our schools,” Nelson says.

Students also have the opportunity to use school resources for the internet before and after schools. Nelson says he appreciates the flexibility of some teachers to make accommodations for homework assignments when students do not have sufficient internet connection to complete them.

Nelson says the lack of internet for students in rural areas creates a digital divide between urban and rural schools.

“I don’t think access to digital resources should be determined by one zip code so we as a school district are looking to support any efforts and initiatives to expand resources to students across our county and our state,” Nelson says.

School starts for students in the Augusta Area School District on September 3.