State officials announce plan to distribute mobile hotspots, internet access for students

State officials announce plan to distribute mobile hotspots, internet access for students
(Source: WAFB)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - State officials said they’re working to bring internet access to more areas across South Carolina ahead of the upcoming school year.

The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, in cooperation with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education, said it’s working with school districts to distribute mobile hotspots and monthly internet access through December to at least 100,000 households.

Paperwork from school districts and other institutions must be sent out by July 27, with a deadline for orders to be returned by Aug. 5.

Officials said priority in the program will be placed on households in areas where the Department of Education has defined as having a poverty rate greater than or equal to 86%.

The Office of Regulatory Staff said it has worked to secure up to 200,000 hotspots for South Carolina through wireless providers. Each hotspot will also have its own security measures in place, in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

Officials said schools themselves will have the ability to block or unblock certain websites.

The ORS also said it’s reaching out to other companies about offering wired internet service to some areas, and has already received quotes from multiple providers.

Officials said as part of receiving funding from the CARES Act, public school districts - along with private schools, special schools, charter schools, private colleges, universities and technical colleges - are responsible for distributing the hotspots to households that are eligible.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.