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Remote learning causes challenges for those without internet access

Heather Johnson's work suffers due to COVID and now she worries about paying for the internet as her kids go back to full remote learning.

EVANS, Colorado — As more school districts move back to remote learning, what has become the norm for many families is a burden for others.

"I know I'm not the only one," said Heather Johnson, a parent of two students in the Greeley-Evans School District.

The district is closing their campus Monday, and Johnson said she is worried about her kids. 

"My girls are both remote learning and my 14-year-old is special needs," Johnson said.

With the rise in COVID-19 cases across Colorado, Johnson said her financial struggles have followed the same pattern. 

RELATED: These school districts have shifted to remote learning

"I was okay. We were okay," she said. "We're able to make our bills and everything, but we ran out of money around July."

Johnson said the pandemic has cut down on her work. Now, she can't afford to pay her internet bill. 

So, she said Comcast is shutting it off.

"All of my life, I've been told how important education is and I'm feeling right now like it's not as important as money," Johnson said.

Jeff Konishi is the chief technology officer for Aurora Public Schools, said that it's crucial that schools across the state work with struggling families to keep kids learning.

"There's no question this is one of the biggest challenges from several factors of how do we provide the internet and how do we provide that connection," Konishi said.

He said that good internet access has evolved from being a privilege to being a necessity and that parents like Johnson should reach out to their schools for help to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.

"That's one of the things we're really trying to minimize is that gap because we do want equity across the board for all of our students," Konishi said.

Johnson is seeking help from her district who she said is working with her. Johnson did try to apply for the Comcast Internet Essentials program which offers cheap service to families who qualify but was denied because she is behind on her payments to Comcast due to COVID-19.

A spokesperson responded from Comcast saying the company is looking into Johnson's case and will work on a solution. 

"This is important. So, I'll do whatever I need to," Johnson said. "I'm just not sure what it is yet."

Johnson said she is worried because full remote learning is just two days away.

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