Most NYC shelters won’t get WiFi until summer – after school year ends

Child looking at tablet.
Child looking at tablet.
Remote learning will continue to be challenging for many families in New York City shelters.

Most NYC shelters won’t get WiFi until summer – after school year ends

Homeless students staying in shelters have struggled to attend classes online since the spring.
October 30, 2020

While New York City officials have pledged to expand internet access to all family shelters to support homeless students, most of them aren’t expected to get connected until the summer, Chalkbeat New York reports. 

The city is aiming to bring WiFi to 27 shelters with some of the worst connectivity challenges, including 11 operated by Women In Need, by this winter. But that means about 200 other family shelters will be left hanging until after the school year comes to an end.

During the spring, New York City allocated $400 million to buy 450,000 iPads with T-Mobile cellular plans to be distributed to students so they could connect to online classes without the need for WiFi. But at least four shelters in the city are in dead zones under the cellular plan, according to the Daily News, leaving homeless students falling behind on classes and assignments. The city has begun to transition iPads to Verizon in the past few weeks, which advocates found to be more accessible.

Remote learning has revealed numerous educational inequities across New York City. Public schools where at least half the student population was Black or Hispanic were almost eight times more likely to find low student engagement and low attendance, according to data published by the City Council earlier this month. 

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.