With many Michigan school districts opting for at least some online instruction this fall, a trusty internet connection and a laptop is often a student’s only link to their teachers and classrooms.
But for thousands of kids in rural and urban communities alike, access to reliable internet and a device suitable for learning isn’t a guarantee.
And while local districts, nonprofits, technology experts and others have worked to address long-standing, systemic gaps in technology access to get students set up for online learning, significant challenges remain to fully address Michigan’s “digital divide.”
“When you boil it down, rural areas need infrastructure, and all areas need devices and affordable connections,” said Eric Frederick, executive director for Connect Michigan, a nonprofit that tracks broadband access around the state.
According to a statewide survey conducted in mid-April by the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, 29.3 percent of Michigan students statewide did not