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Online learning brings unique challenges to rural communities

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SAUK COUNTY (WKOW) -- As schools across the state launch online curriculums, some families face more barriers than others.

For Stephanie Krueger, these past few days have had a learning curve.

"I'm still trying to get a feel for all the options out there," she said.

With two elementary-aged students in the Wisconsin Heights School District, Krueger started teaching at home Monday. While she said her background in education has given her a head start, her broadband has held her back.

"Because we have absolutely horrible Internet where we live," she said. "Certain programs or apps work better than others and others don't download at all."

Krueger lives just outside of Mazomanie and she said, while she's gotten a lot of support from the district, streaming is out of the question much of the time, and she's had to limit her children's Internet use.

"We've figured out that one child on the Internet at a time is the most efficient way to get anything done," she said.

The other will work on the educational packets the school has supplied or an art project.

In the River Valley School District, superintendent Tom Andres said it'll take another week before they launch their online curriculum.

"To gear up and do this was a crash course for everyone in our system," he said.

The district expanding from Arena to Lone Rock is geographically one of the largest in the state. Many of its students live in areas without high-speed Internet access.

"We have hills and valleys so the connectivity for computers, networks to do the virtual education is pretty significant," Andres said.

To alleviate that issue, the district is supplying dozens of mobile hotspots to families that need them and supplying free WiFi in the middle school parking lot.

Andres also said the curriculum will include a lot of offline content through educational packets as well. He said the district will be delivering those over the next week.

"We need to walk through this journey together and help each other," he said.

Andres said his top priority is ensuring students don't fall behind and are prepared to meet the standards for the next grade level by the fall.

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Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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