Parents raise concerns about technology accessibility for students in virtual learning

ALVIN – Not every family can afford or have access to the basic digital tools their children need for virtual learning. Even as Harris County officials order all public schools to begin online this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Parents in the Alvin and Huffman school districts are having big issues with their internet connection. They fear poor connectivity could negatively harm their children’s learning abilities.

“How are they going to learn when we don’t have anything that works,” Lauren Levesque said.

‪”I want to give these kids the best opportunity they can for their education,” Yvonne Murdie Braid said. ‬

‪It’s a frustrating problem for Murdie Braid and Levesque. They are both fed up with their internet service. ‬

‪Levesque has Suddenlink. ‬

“Awful, inconsistent, bad customer service, not helpful,” she said.

Braid has AT&T.

‪”Satellite is not reliable. Dial-up you can’t even hold a meeting or anything. And your cell phone only gives you 30 GB before you slow down to the point where you can’t even do a meeting,” she said. ‬

‪Braid has been with AT&T for 20 years but said her home on Willow Lane in Alvin does not have internet access. ‪She said she keeps getting the run around with AT&T. ‬

‪”Give me a solid reason why you can’t physically run a line. Don’t tell me it’s because you aren’t going to make money from us,” she said. ‬‪ ‬

Levesque works from home and will send her daughter back to school because the internet goes in and out.

“I don’t want my child sitting at home trying her best to learning stuff in person on the computer when the internet goes out it’s already hard enough on them,” she said.

Most schools are still working on plans that will provide a better internet connection for students at home this fall.

But parents like Braid and Levesque say the problems fall back on the companies that provide the services they need.

‪”In a time like this, we are more worried about the children and the children’s education. I’m sorry big corporate America help us out,” Braid said. ‬

“We have to figure out how to get it fixed so they can have a good education,” Levesque said.

KPRC 2 reached out to AT&T, Suddenlink, Alvin ISD and Crosby ISD but have not heard back.

However earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott allocated $200 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for the purchase of eLearning devices and home internet solutions to enable remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic for Texas students that lack connectivity.