I took that as obvious seeing as they said on one PC they can "see their 5Ghz network" and they "used to be able to see it via USB adapter".
so get this: today we had a power outtage right; this laptop has terrible battery life and lost power after a few minutes or so bc i forgot it was still on. the network also shut down obviously. when the power comes back on and i get back on this laptop, i can now magically see and connect to 5ghz on it. i am not sure if i just needed to fully drain the laptop of power or if effectively fully resetting the network was the answer.my best guess it that windows10 is just trash and it was a random glitch.