A Westmoreland teacher's struggle with InternetMonday, September 13, 2021
BY DAINA DAVY
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Every weekday morning, Donna Marshall, a teacher at the Savanna-la-Mar Infant School, gathers her schoolbooks and double checks that she has an active data plan on her phone before making the trek to Mountain Assembly Church where she teaches her online classes. It's a 15-minute walk from her house in McAlpine, Whitehouse.
Marshall does not have Internet at home and it's a struggle to spend roughly $1,600 a week on data plans that she says barely last an entire session. Her autistic son, 14-year-old Miguel, also relies on her data supply to do his online classes with Llandilo School of Special Education.
“I cannot teach around my son who has autism. Because of the pandemic he has to stay at home, so what happens is that I teach at a church in my community,” Marshall explained. “I go to work at the church every day as I would have gone to work at Sav Infant.”
While she is at work, her two older sons — Kishorn, 31, and Malik, 19 — take turns keeping an eye on Miguel. When she gets home, she checks his schoolwork.
Ensuring that there is a steady supply of data is a constant challenge, said Marshall.
“I have to purchase credit and ask Malik to put on the data for me. Yesterday he put on one for two days, and I did not get two days from it. It finished before midday,” she bemoaned. This just adds to her already heavy burden. She longs for a tablet that Miguel could use for his classes, but cannot afford it.
“Miguel is severely autistic, and it costs a lot to care for him. It is really a challenge, and it is more than I can bear, and I am not lying. Sometimes I cry,” she said.
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