GREEN MOUNTAIN — A student in eighth-grade teacher Meaghan O’Leary’s class was struggling. The concept of negative exponents in scientific notation wasn’t sticking, and trying to explain the difficult concept by video or phone call didn’t cut it.
So, on a recent Tuesday afternoon, O’Leary loaded a whiteboard in her car and left the Green Mountain School to hold a socially distanced lesson in the boy’s yard.
Washington students have been out of school since mid-March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and in the weeks since, schools are grappling to navigate distance learning.
The obstacles are high for the 160 kindergarten through eighth-grade students in the Green Mountain School District. Districts like Evergreen or Vancouver public schools can rely on many of their students to have internet access, home computers or classroom computers and tablets they’ve already taken home.
Green Mountain, in a rural, unincorporated area of Clark County east of Woodland, doesn’t have that same foundation in place. Tens of millions of families in this country do not have reliable internet access, an issue highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. Green Mountain is no exception; district officials estimate half of their families can’t go online due to cost or availability. The district has divvied out several “hot spots,” which create a wireless internet connection through a mobile phone network, but service is spotty or inaccessible for some families.