BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Some rural Alaska students participating in distance learning because of the coronavirus are experiencing difficulties caused by technology limitations.

Not all students in the Lower Kuskokwim School District have access to the same technology. Some have full internet access and others try to keep in touch with teachers by telephone, KYUK-AM reported Tuesday.

Patrick Williams, a Bethel Regional High School media education specialist, said most students he works with have not had sufficient contact with their teachers.

“When I was making more phone calls regularly, it would be an hour or two a day, just trying to reach out to the same students over, and over, and over, and over again,” Williams said.

If a teachers are unavailable, finding answers can require internet connectivity that is not available for all students, he said.

“You know I can’t even imagine not being able to Google it,” Williams said.


Kaylee King of Mekoryuk does not have internet access at home and is limited to phoning teachers.

The Bethel high school student returned to her village to complete the school year after the outbreak of COVID-19 and is experiencing difficulty keeping up.

“The hardest part is having the school work, and then, of course, we don’t even know how to do it,” King said.

Tatyana Avugiak of Chefornak is among the smaller number of rural Alaska students who have adequate computer and internet access. A week before the school year ends, she had finished her work and officially become a Bethel high school senior.

“I’ve been emailing all my teachers and scanning them through my mom, because she’s a teacher here in the village, which makes it easier for me to get my schoolwork done,” Avugiak said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.