This content is provided free of charge by The Newton Kansan. For more local journalism, please subscribe at thekansan.com/subscribenow


Parents, do you need a Chromebook or internet access for your kids? How comfortable are you offering tech support to your kids as they go to school online? What would be the best time for your kids to be online for school?


Unified School District 373 wants to know, and they are asking using online surveys they hope people can fill out, or help others fill out, in short order. There are two surveys that have been published in the past three days.


Both became a necessity when Gov. Laura Kelly signed an executive order March 17 closing school buildings for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread across the world and is growing in Kansas.


The first is a technology survey to help ensure students have what they need to learn. The information from this survey will be used to plan for addressing student-device and internet-access needs.


That survey is available online at https://tinyurl.com/wvb8mnv/.


Each school will be scheduling time for students to get their things and check out Chromebook computers with chargers, this week. Parents will be notified by email.


The second survey is an education survey. This survey will help the district add details to its plan for education moving forward. The goal is to ensure that the district is equipped to transition to a continuous learning environment and is responsive to the needs of all families.


That survey is available online at https://tinyurl.com/rv7xk36.


The survey will ask parents about best times of day, their comfort level in supporting online education and what other resources are already available in their homes to support their child’s education.


On Tuesday, the district circulated a Google document with information to try and help families find internet connections for their homes.


According to the document, the district is “re-evaluating ways to help families so these resources will continue to be updated.”


Cox and several other internet providers have made all of their hotspots across the nation open to anyone, not just Cox customers. See what is available in your area at https://www.cox.com/hotspots/.


Cox is also offering “Cox Connect2Compete,” a discounted internet connection for low-income families. The company was taking online applications for the service this week. Call wait times for service requests ranged from about an hour to more than 90 minutes Tuesday.


The company told the Kansan in a news release that residential customers in the company’s Starter, Straight-Up Internet and Connect2Compete packages will be automatically upgraded to higher speeds, and it will extend its Cox Complete Care remote desktop support at no charge to residential customers with remote helpdesk and assistance for loading new applications they may need to use during this time, such as online classroom support applications and web conferencing services.


According to USD 373, many cellphone providers are removing the data usage cap for current subscribers. Several offer a student discount for a hotspot and/or unlimited data offers.


Verizon has told USD 373 their hotspots are currently backordered and they don’t expect supply until mid-April.


There is also a website to assist in finding a service provider: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers/.