Remote Learning

DC to Cover Internet Bills for 25,000 Families

Washington, D.C. will be covering the internet bills for up to 25,000 students and families through the new school year. Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the $3.3 million "Internet for All," which will use funding from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, delivered through the CARES Act Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund. Those who qualify are families eligible for food stamps and other public assistance.

The project will be coordinated by the District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) and will incorporate internet streaming through Comcast's Internet Essentials and RCN's Internet First programs. Both promise "up to 25 Mbps" speed for $9.95 per month.

Now, according to CTO Lindsey Parker, the office is reaching out to eligible families via email, phone and text messages. Families can also work through their own schools to get access to the program.

"As schools begin classes online, students without regular access to the internet are at a severe disadvantage," Parker said in a statement. "The Bowser administration is committed to work with our partners and our community to break this cycle and create a fair shot for everyone in DC."

The new program segues with the launch of OCTO's new "Tech Together" initiative, a public-private-nonprofit partnership for bridging the broader digital divide in the District. That includes:

  • Broadcasting information about low-cost internet services;

  • Increasing internet access;

  • Providing training to residents; and

  • Increasing tech savvy among DC government employees.

According to reporting by the Washington Post, if funds are left over from Internet for All, the city might expand eligibility to include undocumented families who also need internet but don't qualify for public assistance.

When the school program ends, Parker said the city would remind participating families to return their router to the internet service provider or pick up the monthly cost themselves.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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