15-year-old schoolgirl forced to attend classes in cemetery parking lot due to lack of internet access

15-year-old schoolgirl forced to attend classes in cemetery parking lot due to lack of internet access

A 15-year-old schoolgirl who hails from San Luis, Colorado, has been forced to attend online lessons while sat in a car in the parking lot of a nearby cemetery because of a lack of reliable internet connection in her home, it's reported.

Carmelita Rael is forced to complete her classes next to the cemetery as she often has problems with her internet coping with the demands of Zoom in her San Luis home.

"I’m lucky if i can get through the whole day without having any problems with my Zoom. It’s been hard." She said.

Rael's school is reportedly only offering online learning at present due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. She lives on an isolated ranch that is surrounded by hills, meaning that her family is unable to access fibre optic cabling or regular broadband.

Her mom, Kimba Rael, is actually the principal of Carmelita's school, and signed up for special satellite internet. However, when the weather is too windy or cloudy the signal drops out, leaving Carmelita without internet access and forcing her to travel to the cemetery, which has clear access to nearby cellphone towers.

Kimba Rael told KDVR:

"Right now, we have the dish on the side of the house, but if the clouds become too heavy, then you have no access.

"If the wind is blowing too strong, and its shaking, you don't have any access."

Centennial School District Superintendent Toby Melster says that roughly 20% of his students have struggles with accessing the internet and he sympathizes with their situation.

"Things are not getting done, and it's not necessarily their fault.

"I know it's causing some frustration, and aggravation, anxiety, not only with the students but with our teachers. I can't say enough about them."

Credit: Pexels

He is working with various tech companies in an attempt to find a temporary fix for students who are being affected.

Melster hopes that installing several large cellphone towers across the district will improve internet access, though they will cost $1.5m.

Earlier this year, a picture that showed two Salinas City, California Elementary School District students sitting outside of a local Taco Bell in order to capture WiFi and enable them to attend their virtual lessons went viral, as it was held up as an example of America's digital divide.

A screenshot of the image was shared on Twitter, where it prompted a widespread response. The tweet reads:

"This is in Salinas, CA— just south of the Bay Area. Small children sitting outside a Taco Bell to be able to get WiFi so they can attend school. When we think about remote learning, we need to stop thinking of it through the lens of people with money and safe housing."

You can read more about that story here.