SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – At least 100,000 families with students in South Carolina could qualify for free Internet access through a portion of the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
This comes after school closures due to COVID-19 required schools to quickly shift instruction from the classroom to the home, yet many students are unable to receive online instruction due to the lack of Internet service at home. In some cases, students did not have access to the Internet; in other cases, it may not have been affordable.
Under South Carolina’s Online Learning Initiative, families that meet certain qualifications can register to get a portable WiFi device, commonly known as a hotspot, or a subscription to their home’s Internet provider. To qualify, families must meet the following requirements:
- Households with an annual income of 250 percent or less of federal poverty guidelines
- An individual in the household attends a school
- The household does not have existing internet service
- The mobile hotspot is necessary as a result of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19
- The cost of mobile hotspots and related service was not accounted for in a school’s budget as it existed on March 27, 2020
- Priority will be given to households in counties that contain a school district that has been defined by the South Carolina Department of Education as having a poverty rate greater than or equal to 86 percent
The Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) is working with the South Carolina Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and private school associations to procure mobile hotspots and monthly internet service through December 31, 2020.
Schools or school districts planning to participate must file several forms to the SC ORS by August 5th.
Spartanburg School District 7 is one district taking part in South Carolina’s Online Learning Initiative.
“It’s certainly a need,” said Jeff Stevens, Spartanburg Co. District 7 Superintendent. “We want to be a participant in that, as all of our Spartanburg Co. Schools, and hopefully every school district throughout our state, is participating in this event.”
If you think you may qualify for free Internet through this initiative, reach out to your child’s school for more information.
In Spartanburg, district offices are asking that families contact them to see if they qualify.