Rochester teacher raising money for students struggling with internet access

Classroom Progress Report

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Many students in Rochester are struggling to attend virtual classes because they do not have internet access. Learning laboratories are closing, which leaves many families in an even more difficult situation.

Kristen French is a Rochester City School teacher who sprang into action to help after learning that some of her students were missing weeks of class. It all started with a little boy named Tristan Sermonds.

Tristan, a second grade student, loves using the computer. “Tristan is autistic,” his mother Patricia Parker said. “Even though he’s in second grade, he needs to learn and be able to pass and get on to the next grade.”

Parker wasn’t sure he would be able to attend remote classes because she couldn’t afford wifi. Tristan’s teacher, French, heard that he might miss school so she took matters into her own hands.

“She was like, ‘oh no I will try and figure out something I can to do help you,” Parker said. “She texted me like it’s all taken care of and the full balance is paid and I’m like what?? Thank you! And it helped a lot because without internet he can’t log on for his online classes.”

French said she was happy to help. “Internet — it used to just be luxury, something that we had if we wanted it and now it’s no longer that. Without internet our students don’t have access to their basic right of education.”

French started a GoFundMe to help raise money to provide internet access to hundreds of students. “Just being able to log on and see the children and their faces makes a huge difference,” French said.

“It’ll help them financially,” Parker said. “Christmas is coming, so someone who just needs their internet paid—especially if they have multiple children more than one—that will help. Because, one little bill, to some it might not seem like a lot—because it might just be $50 or $60—but trust me, it helps.”

Rochester City officials provided this comment about the Rec Center Learning Labs:

Under the Governor’s designation of an Orange Zone, schools, which includes learning labs/centers, are required to close. Therefore, the City and RCSD agreed to close the learning labs at R- Centers to comply with the Governor’s order. The City, in partnership with RCSD and others, has offered locations and other assistance for the County to provide testing to our residents.

For families who are having trouble with internet access, district officials secured a special internet deal with Spectrum back in October.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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