Rural schools offering broadband access in classrooms

UPSHUR COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - The internet has become a tool for education. One simple search can open up the world in a matter of seconds. And in rural areas, school districts are working hard to keep their students from falling behind.

"Technology and the internet and this type of learning is here, it's not something of 'if we should do it or should we not?" said Dr Sara Stankus, Superintendent for Upshur County Schools.

According to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), 30% of West Virginians do not have access to high speed internet. In rural areas, that number jumps to 48%. And some only have dial-up.

So school districts like in Upshur County provide their kids with internet-ready computers as well as other devices.

"Many of our classes have iPads. They're using applications to communicate with families," sais Stankus.

But one thing, school officials say, mostly everyone has a phone from students to parents. So they're taking advantage of their mobile devices, and using it not only as a source for education but for communication.

"Recently our high school is using an application for parents, it's called ICU, where parents can receive text messages when their student has missing work," she said.

But when it comes to homework, that’s still done most of the time, by paper.

School officials conducted a survey for parents and teachers about snow packets. The question? Give those assignments the old fashioned way or give them a digital copy. The majority says they want to keep it in paper format. However. they provide links to those who can log in at home.

"Our teachers are innovative," she said.

But in the world of technology, schools are working hard to make sure their kids are ready for life after high school.

"We connect something that leads people to information," said Stankus.