Experts Give Advice for a Safe and Strong Internet as GIPS Virtual School Enrollment Grows

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) – More students signed up for GIPS Virtual School seemingly overnight, and as more families prepare for this new year of online learning, you may want to add Internet to your back-to-school checklist.

There are now 693 primary school students enrolled in the virtual school. That’s 23 more than Tuesday afternoon.

“I think our community needs it,” said Whitney Flower, who was recently named elementary director of the GIPS virtual school.

Flowers said online learning will be very different this semester than it was in the spring.

At the elementary level, there will be 29 teachers from across the district dedicated specifically to the virtual school. Fifteen specialists will support students in special education and offer special courses such as music and physical education. Some specialists can also work both virtually and in physical buildings.

Flowers said students will have a daily schedule filled with learning. Their day may include live zooms with teachers or independent work on activities. Overall, student schedules are still going.

“I’m really excited to be spearheading something innovative and different,” Flowers said. “We want to keep our students safe. It is a priority.

To complete this online learning at home, students will need a strong Wi-Fi connection. With more people in the house, additional devices on the same network could cause lag for home internet.

“If they see that dreaded circle and buffering, the first thing I would do is find out how many people are actively using the internet at the same time,” said Stephanie Laux, internet expert at Kinetic by Windstream. “If they see this more frequently, it would be important for them to contact their provider and see if they can get this upgrade.”

The next piece of the puzzle is securing your network. Laux says it’s important to have anti-virus software, anti-theft protection, and anti-spam and anti-malware to prevent hackers from accessing your information.

You should also back up your device at least once a month and practice good computer hygiene. Change passwords often and make them complicated enough that others can’t guess them.

If you’re in a more rural area and often struggle with poor broadband, Laux advises contacting your provider to see what they can do.

“Many providers are offering students the option of accessing this important broadband service if they don’t have it at home, as it will be an increasingly important tool for our students and people working from home. in the future,” Laux said.

Flowers said if there are students enrolled in the GIPS Virtual School who do not have access to WiFi, staff will work with the family to find a solution. She said they were considering special circumstances as the school continues to enroll students in the virtual program.

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Perry A. Thomasson