Wicomico County families worried about internet connectivity ahead of first day back to school

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – The first day of school for students in Wicomico County Public Schools is fast approaching. Students will begin online learning on Tuesday. Some families say they are worried about their internet connection. Parents say they’ve been waiting on hotspots from the school district. “They’re coming, they don’t have them yet, they’ll let us know. But as it’s getting closer to school, now we’re asking if we don’t have the hot spot what are our options?” said Nicole Rogers.

Parent Jenna Habermeyer says that the challenges going into this school year have been mounting up. She says adding this to their concerns just makes getting kids ready for virtual learning even harder. “Going back to school at any time is hard with kids. But with this on top of it it’s really difficult,” said Habermeyer.

Dr. Ryan Habermeyer says his family – and others in their neighborhood – are not getting enough answers on how or when they’ll get hot spots from school district officials. “From the get go we’ve been contacting them for several months about hot spots – where they’re were going to be with availability of hot spots. They kept telling us for months now we’ll have the hot spots,” said Dr. Habermeyer.

Wicomico County Public Schools says they have about a thousand hot spots to distribute to families that may have difficulties connecting to the internet. “It will be able to cover two to three devices at a time. We’ll see what happens. I’m very confident in what Verizon has told us,” said Director of Communications Paul Butler.

But the school district also says if the hot spots don’t work or if a family doesn’t get one – they should go to their school’s parking lot and connect to WiFi there. “We have some schools that have hot spots in them that they can park in the parking lot and they are able to use those as hot spots,” said Butler.

Parents with multiple children say this isn’t a viable option. Rogers says she and her family are hoping to see more solutions from the district. “Sitting in a car for hours during the day with four different children going to school at different times is not viable,” said Rogers.

Butler says that families who are getting hot spots can pick them up as late as Tuesday. “We have our thousand hot spots from Verizon which were delivered on Monday. Our team worked furiously to get them prepared and ready,” said Butler.

But parents say that’s not enough time to get their kids ready to learn. The Habermeyers say they hope to see local leaders help solve the issue sooner – rather than later. “I think if you have the city government and the state government working in coordination, we could actually get something pretty fast done. The clock is ticking,” said Dr. Habermeyer.

Wicomico County Public Schools says that for most families in the district, internet connectivity is not a problem. But they’ll be ordering more hot spots to distribute if they need to. “The whole country is begging for these hot spots and we were lucky to get our hands on a thousand of them from Verizon,” said Butler.

Butler says that if families can’t seem to get their internet connection working – they can always call their school to try and find a better solution. Wicomico County Public Schools has also set up a hotline for help with connectivity issues. To reach the Wicomico County Public Schools office, you can call (410) 677-4400.

Categories: Coronavirus, Education, Local News, Maryland