When there isn’t internet access at home, senior Natalie Bacilio must find ways to compensate in an age when schoolwork is largely done online.
“There’s times when my parents can’t really pay for internet because they barely meet rent money,” said Bacilio. “So sometimes it’s like we have to do without internet for maybe a week or two.”
Bacilio gets her homework done by going to a nearby library, asking friends for help, or using the wifi at school. Sometimes she feels uncomfortable reaching out for help.
“I don’t really like to ask for things unless I truly need them,” Bacilio said, “so when I do ask it’s because I really need the help.”
For many students at Branham, having access to the Internet at home isn’t something they take for granted. More than 90 percent have reliable internet access.
When students don’t have reliable internet at home, doing homework on Google Classroom or looking up assignments on Schoolloop becomes challenging. In addition, this can create more long-lasting implications on a student’s future such as researching and applying to colleges through Naviance, the online-only portal for college applications.
Whether they have a computer, but no internet, or simply cannot get access to a computer, doing everyday tasks online can be a struggle.
“That’s kind of hard for me and my brother because then we have to find other ways to get our work done,” said Bacilio.
Senior Sheyla Paredes Ramirez, who doesn’t have internet at home, says that not having wifi makes the college application process harder because “it’s more confusing doing it on the phone.”
However, it can be hard for students to come forward and ask for help because there may be a stigma on campus against asking for help or resources.
“I think that the biggest barrier is just getting them to be comfortable with saying, ‘Hey, I don’t have this at home,’” said Mike Espinoza, and English and AVID teacher.
As an AVID teacher, Espinoza sees a lot of students who face limited internet access. To him, one of the most important actions he can take is to simply be mindful of students’ circumstances.
“As a teacher, I have to be cognizant of asking that question,” he said. “And just saying, ‘By the way, if you don’t have access, please let me know.’”
Support from teachers is helpful for Ramirez, who prefers other methods of doing her work.
“I normally try to convince my teachers if I can do a hard copy instead of doing online,” she said.
Aside from teacher support, Branham administration provides multiple resources for students who need it. Students have the option to go to the library in room 45 to use the computers there, or use their own computer with Branham’s wifi. During Branham’s annual Winter Wishes festival, students will occasionally receive a computer.
Another option for students who don’t have a computer and need to work at home is to check out Chromebooks with built-in routers. Students simply need to ask by going into the office or emailing administrators, though few
“We have the resources now to hand out to everyone who needs one,” said Assistant Principal Rick Hayashi. He estimates that between 10-20 students have used this resource this year.
Del Mar High School is piloting a program in which every student on campus gets a computer to use at school and home for as long as they’re enrolled at Del Mar. A similar idea has been floated here, but Principal Cheryl Lawton has said that a similar program is not yet possible due to cost.
Ultimately, Bacilio tries to keep her situation in perspective whenever she struggles with access to internet.
“I always think to myself there are people who don’t have a phone, at the very least,” she said. “I have that and I have a laptop.”