In mid-March of 2020, students across the nation got sent home from school in fear of the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing teachers to pivot their curriculum to an online format in a matter of days. This was not an easy, simple change, especially for those who had been refining the same curriculum year after year for decades. As we near 2022 and people are slowly returning to school, we must shine light on common misconceptions about the evolved post-pandemic learning environments across the United States.
Myth One: Schools equip classrooms with all teaching essentials.
When a parent walks into a classroom on the first day of school, they may admire the reading nook, wall décor, or computer cart sitting idle in the corner of the room, but rarely do they consider how it was all paid for. The reality is, teachers are facing the daunting task of inventing hybrid curriculum amid budget cuts and lack of funding for basic classroom necessities, a charge they can’t handle alone. After classrooms collected dust for over a year, many of their supplies, textbooks, and technology are out of date and in need of a refresh. Historically, many of these materials were purchased from the teacher’s own pocket, however after the fall of the economy and record unemployment levels, most educators do not have the extra cash to afford these items.
This is why T-Mobile is stepping up to help, offering donations and deals to jumpstart the new school year and ensure everyone has an easier transition back to in-person learning. First off, teachers deserve affordable wireless plans so they can conveniently reach parents and discuss curriculum with their coworkers. So, T-Mobile is offering an iPhone 12 on Us and half off family lines to make certain that teachers and families stay connected. In addition, T-Mobile is donating $1 million dollars to DonorsChoose, an organization that helps public school teachers purchase the supplies that students need to succeed. The nonprofit allows teachers to request various classroom supplies to meet their students’ needs. DonorsChoose then purchases and ships the items directly to the school. Donors can look forward to a thank you note, photos of their donation being put to use, and a detailed report of where their money was spent.
Founder of DonorsChoose, Charles Best, notes that “this coming school year might be the most important of our generation, and teachers will need all the encouragement we can give them as so many returns to classrooms. T-Mobile’s gift to teachers will help students start the year strong and support them during a time of readjustment.”
Myth Two: Educators will return to pre-pandemic teaching methods.
Gone are the days of thick workbooks and heavy textbooks – whether we like it or not, online learning resources have become the norm and personal computers are an education staple. Students will continue to be at a severe disadvantage without access to the internet or to mobile devices that allow them to connect with their teacher and do schoolwork at home. Heavy reliance on at-home internet was a significant contributor to exacerbating educational inequity in the past year. In addition, with the rise of Delta variant cases and a lack of vaccinated individuals in some states, teachers will have to be prepared to accommodate students that have to learn virtually in a moment’s notice and rely on families having internet and wireless connectivity in their homes. In an effort to relieve some of the technological burden, T-Mobile announced the continuation of Project 10Million – the $10.7 billion initiative that will provide 10 million underserved households with free internet and mobile hotspots over the next 10 years.
“Back to school is special this year” acknowledges Jon Freier, EVP of T-Mobile’s Consumer Group. “It represents getting back to so much more that we’ve missed after a really trying year for families, teachers and students. That’s why T-Mobile is going big here to help everyone stay connected with America’s largest, fastest and most reliable 5G network.”
Every classroom across the United States will look different this fall. Some courses may even continue to be entirely virtual for students who are unable to return to in-person learning or who have adopted different lifestyles over the last year. It is important that we recognize the need for home internet in every household and supplies in every classroom to ensure educational equity. Whether families choose to navigate post-pandemic learning in person or virtually, T-Mobile is doing their part in helping them stay connected and equipped with the essentials they need.