Over 15,000 student households in five school districts were gifted with free internet connectivity this morning, as many children struggle with online learning due to unreliable Wi-Fi amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Good Morning America,” revealed the surprise today to students attending five public school districts located in Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania, Jackson, Mississippi, Baltimore, Maryland, Santa Fe, New Mexico and South Bend, Indiana. They will now have five years of free internet connection in their homes, thanks to T-Mobile’s Project 10Million–a program that aims to eventually get free Wi-Fi to 10 million students’ households in the US.
“It means a lot to the community–to narrow the gap, for students to have the opportunity to have internet access at home. It’s amazing,” said Shawn Henderson, principal of Riley High School in South Bend. “We’re blessed, thank you.”
Of the 50 million children learning remotely, between 15 and 16 million lack adequate internet connectivity, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology. As a result, many students have turned to fast food restaurants or school parking lots to access online classes.
In Jackson, where school administrators are dealing with the challenges of online learning, Errick Greene, Superintendent of Jackson Public Schools told “Good Morning America” that about 25 percent of students are not connected through the internet.
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The digital divide has been present even before the pandemic hit, with many households without internet access due to racial, economic and geographic inequalities.
“There’s a lot of barriers, infrastructure barriers, cost barriers and just barriers in general to getting people connected,” said Brett Slezak, Supervisor of Technology at Allegheny Valley School in Pennsylvania.
In Baltimore, 20,000 families were without access to broadband, which is equivalent to 40,000 students.
And in indigenous communities in New