Charlotte Mecklenburg Library resources aim to lessen digital divide

Overcoming the digital divide in Meck County

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The race to make sure students are ready for virtual learning is on.

Groups like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library are doing all they can to balance safety in a pandemic and serving students.

The doors of Mecklenburg County Library branches are open for pick up and drop off, but everything else has moved online.

“All CMS students can use their ID as their library card so they can take out additional information and access resources,” Charlotte Mecklenburg Library communications leader Ann Stawski said.

They’re offering virtual one-on-one tutoring, but not all students have internet access.

“It would be appropriate for the Governor maybe to put a moratorium on the August 17 start date,” CMS teacher Lori Carter said.

Carter teaches 9th graders at Philip O Berry in west Charlotte. She reached out to students to determine who still needs a hotspot or a chromebook.

“I would say maybe a quarter of the families did actually request one or the other,” she said.

She compares the lack of technology to the PPE shortage early on in the pandemic.

“This is not a district issue, this is most definitely a systemic issue and a supply chain outsourcing issue,” she said.

High demand across the country means students starting off the year on different pages.

The libraries are offering 60 to 80 rentable hotspots and free WiFi access outside of the building.

Carter would like to see more of these options, because not all parents can afford other help.

“Folks who don’t have the ability to create these pods, also don’t have access to technology,” she said. “I think it’s incumbent upon us all to work together to make sure that everybody has equal access to what they need to be successful in school.”

The library branches plan to move into their next phase of reopening within the next few weeks. It would mean limited indoor access and 15-20 minute time slots available at the public computers.

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