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With Support from Dell Telephone & Delcom, Cougar Teachers & Students Are Staying Connected Online

Continuing the school year with the school closed has been a daunting challenge for Dell City School teachers and students – and families! To meet the challenge, our educators and students are connecting online, and sharing materials and continuing instruction remotely.

 

It wouldn't be happening without Dell Telephone Cooperative, and its subsidiary, Delcom.

 

When the prospect of an extended school closure emerged during Spring Break, school officials reached out to the Coop. Within a week, Delcom had connected all the Cougar households that were previously without internet access – 18 families, with 25 students, or more than a third of the student body. Delcom didn't charge the school district, or the families.

 

“They didn't have to do it,” Dell City ISD Supt. Ruben Cervantes said, “but they stepped up. It's an integral part of us being successful. For a lot of school districts, it's been expensive, and not every district has been able to do it. I'm so glad we didn't have to worry about that.”

 

Cervantes singled out school Business Manager Melanie Gentry for initiating the effort. She reached out to Coop General Manager Denny Bergstrom and staffer Joel Muñiz, and Muñiz reassigned Delcom service technicians to assist the school.

 

Bergstrom said that when the scale of the coronavirus disruption became clear, Dell Telephone “took a pledge: that we would not disconnect anybody, and also that we would try to get the school kids service – not only here, but in the other places we serve.”

 

“They needed it,” Bergstrom said, “so we dropped what we were doing with other projects. And I think it worked out well for them.”

 

Internet service is provided to all the recently connected households free through the end of the school year, until June 1. After that, families can decide if they want to maintain the service. Bergstrom said Delcom is exploring whether, going forward, the company can provide internet service to low-income families at a reduced price.

 

As Delcom was putting in the new internet connections, the school also acquired laptops and iPads for 10 students who did not have school devices. Teachers have been using several platforms – including Zoom and Google classroom – to hold classes remotely. Gentry said Delcom's assistance and the online resources have made a real impact.

 

“It's been a blessing,” she said. “It just makes it easier to communicate with students, and to make sure they have their assignments. If the school had to close again in the future, we know we can implement and deploy the technology pretty fast.”

 

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented challenge – and one that requires a community-wide response. A big thanks to Dell Telephone and Delcom – for their support of Cougar students!