PHOTO: Searching for the (signal) strength

Searching for (signal) strength

Melissa Bennett and her two daughters, Kaylyn Murphy (left), a senior at Riverside High School, and 6th-grader Braylyn Murphy, sit in their car outside Riverside on Tuesday, the first day of school for students in West Virginia. Bennett said internet service was out at their home, so they drove to the high school in order for the girls to connect to the Wi-Fi available there and do their schoolwork. Kanawha is one of nine counties barred from holding in-person classes this week. Kanawha County was among nine counties that were generally forbidden by West Virginia’s color-coded school reopening map from offering in-person classes this week. These nine counties were orange, meaning they average over 10 new cases of COVID-19 per day per 100,000 residents. The state says it’s spending $6 million to spread the reach of free Wi-Fi internet beyond the walls of government locations with internet, including schools and colleges. Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday that 848 such locations, of a goal of more than 1,000, have been upgraded so far. Kanawha school officials didn’t provide an average percentage of students who logged on to online learning Tuesday, but they said it was 80% at Nitro High and more than 70% at East Bank Middle. Kanawha is providing free three-day meal box deliveries via bus to students’ bus stops Wednesday, with buses starting their routes at 11 a.m. It delivered meals on Tuesday as well.