$1.6 million grant to help students with internet access

NOW: $1.6 million grant to help students with internet access

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--The coronavirus pandemic has forced many schools to adapt to new changes this school year.

South Bend Community School Corporation, providing free wifi bus services to students, parking buses around the city and in low income neighborhoods for students who need it the most.

Now, SBCSC will provide even more technology services to students in need.

“As educators we recognize the critical need to make internet access accessible for all of our students and families, particularly those most at risk,” South Bend School Corporation Superintendent Todd Cummings said. “Based on the data from infocus and the city, we were able to take the necessary steps to fill internet gaps for all of our citizens.”

A survey that the city and Notre Dame conducted shows that 30% of families do not have connection to wifi, and around 4,000 SBCSC students need opportunities for connectivity.

The Governors Emergency Grant Fund (GEER)will help provide for these students, offering home or cellular internet wifi service for up to two years to 2,000 at risk families.

“No matter where students need to learn in this time of uncertainty, they should have the resources to do so,” South Bend Chief Innovation Officer Denise Whittle said. “Not only will students who need it the most have access in their homes, they’ll also have portable hotspots to wherever they need to go, whether that’s a relative’s house, whether that’s a community center.”

The fund will also equip every single SBCSC school bus with wifi.

South Bend leaders said inaccessible internet has been one of the main concerns from families since July.

“It’s yet another barrier that many families face because they don’t have access at home,” South Bend Mayor James Mueller said. “Never has it been more important than this year where people are forced to learn at home.”

Leader said that providing these new opportunities will help fill in the gaps of what they said is a digital divide in South Bend.

“The fact that we keep talking about this digital divide, the fact that now we have some resources available and we’re working with community partners to make sure that everybody has access to the internet I think it’s going to be a tremendous boost to our education here in South Bend,” South Bend School Corporation Board of Trustee at large Rudy Monterrosa said.

South Bend leaders encourage that SBCSC families and students to email them with any comments and concerns by emailing them at asksbcsc@sb.school.

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