Schools may provide internet hotspots or free internet at home for families without good service. Get in touch with the district or talk to a teacher about how to get help from your schools. They may also be able to send computers or tablets to kids, although there’s a shortage of education-style computers at the moment.
Q: Our service slows way down when several people do video calls at the same time. Are there simple ways to fix that?
A: Talk to your internet service provider. It may be time to update your modem or router, and some offer Wi-Fi extenders to improve the network. ISPs can also try repositioning your existing equipment to improve the range and strength of Wi-Fi connections.
Other options include “mesh” style Wi-Fi networks that let you position several base stations around a large house, giving you a stronger signal most everywhere. If necessary, it may be time to pay up for higher-speed service.
You can also try talking to teachers and co-workers to reschedule calls to go easier on the network. Turning off your own camera during video calls can help, too. Sometimes teachers can record lessons and send them to kids to watch later if live streaming isn’t possible.
Q: Virtual-school programs and computers can be hard to figure out. Gadgets break. Then what?
A: Some districts have set up tech-support phone lines or live chats to help students and parents. Chicago Public Schools, for example, has phone help available in English and Spanish and a website where you can open a ticket for help. But there may not be much schools can do if there’s an issue with your own computer or the cable company.