GOSHEN — With COVID-19 pushing online learning to the forefront this year, Goshen Community Schools officials are on a mission to get 100% of the district’s students access to the internet. And while they’re close to achieving that goal, they’re not there yet.

David Snyder, director of technology for Goshen Community Schools, provided a brief update on the district’s internet connectivity work during a meeting of the Goshen school board Monday night.

“So, the first thing I want to say is, wow, what an amazing resource our parent liaisons are. I think we’re really privileged to have that in Goshen schools,” Snyder said, referencing the GCS employees who work to bridge the gap between home and school by helping parents get the information and support they need to ensure their child’s success. “They were really able to help with this task. They know our families, and they contacted all families that responded to our survey at the start of the year, choosing whether or not they wanted to be online only, or actually be in-building.

“Part of that survey included whether or not they had internet access. So, we used that data to contact each and every family as we could,” he added of the work. “There are still some families that have not responded, and that we’ve had difficulty contacting. But that work continues.”

As of Monday’s meeting, Snyder reported that more than 98.5% of GCS students now have access to the internet in one form or another, whether that be through internet access at home, use of local Wi-Fi hotspots around the city, etc.

“There are different places that you can go,” Snyder said of the various options students have for accessing the internet wirelessly. “You can go to restaurants. Any of our parking lots basically have internet access. Goshen College. The public library is also another hot spot. You can get internet access there.”

Along those lines, Snyder noted that he is in the process of setting up conversations with Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman and other city leadership to discuss strategies to expand the availability of internet hotspots throughout the district.

“So, we’re continuing to talk about that,” Snyder told the board. “I really want to see Goshen as a connected place so that it’s not a hurdle that further differentiates kind of the haves and have nots of our community.

“And I will say, talking to neighboring districts, and other districts within northern Indiana, we’re doing really well,” he added of the district’s overall internet connectivity efforts. “But again, we want to see 100%. That’s really our goal.”

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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