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Is the internet going to fall down when the kids go back to school?

Last Updated Aug 20, 2020 at 1:20 pm CDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – A school year relying heavily on kids being connected may see some left behind if they can’t get online.

As parents and school boards try to get kids connected there’s also a chance the internet may not be able to keep up.

Dr. Tom Keenan, professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, said for some the issue is speed, for others the issue is more basic access.

“The reality is some rural customers get very spotty bandwidth, some of them have to use satellites which is inherently limiting and very expensive, so there is absolutely an urban/rural divide.”

But there’s also the risk of having everyone hooked up using video conferencing and possibly breaking the internet.

“Right now the odds are maybe 30 per cent yes, 70 per cent no,” said Keenan. “There is a technical advance which is a new video codec which without getting all techy here, takes about half the space.”

It’s a different story in some countries like Mexico where the government believes the risks are too high to send kids back to school and are working with cable providers to run age-specific educational programming.

Keenan said that’s not a bad idea.

“I think if we got some really captivating people to go out there and teach kids something that they’re interested in, that’s pretty important, we could have people watching television and learning something from that.”

Many provinces have announced their return to school plans which will see many kids inside the classrooms come September.

Several school boards are offering online learning options and parents are taking advantage of that.

The Calgary Catholic School Board, for example, has already received over 5,000 applications for distance learning since opening that portal last week.