CARROLL COUNTY, Va. – The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on many issues in our area, but perhaps one of the largest is Internet access.
When schools had to quickly adapt to online classes, it became apparent how many students have no access to the Internet outside of school grounds.
The Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Mark Burnette, said it’s a mix of availability across the county, affordability for some families and the varying Internet speeds.
About 25% of students are facing this issue currently and Burnette was hoping for some help from state lawmakers. However, broadband expansion was scrapped from the General Assembly’s final budget, which was approved on Friday.
“I think there needs to be some type of funding to assist with those who can’t afford internet and to build upon our infrastructure as well,” said Burnette.
A superintendent from Franklin County was also vocal about the issue as it also affects his school division.
Dr. Mark Church said about 35% of his students are struggling with accessibility with up to 17% located completely outside of a broadband coverage area.
Right now, Church said he’s working to secure grants and collaborate with county leaders.
So far, they have given out 50 additional hotspots, which is helping nearly 60 students.