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HALIFAX, Va., (WSET) – It’s a national problem, an estimated five million homes with school-aged kids in the United States have limited-to-no broadband connectivity. At least 50 percent of students across Halifax County do not have access to Broadband Internet when they’re at home, making it difficult to complete assignments. Within the year the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC) and Microsoft hope to change that. They call it addressing the “homework gap.”
“With this process the kids will be able to learn outside of the traditional school hours and continue the growth throughout those hours,” MBC’s director of community relations and innovative programs, Jeremy Satterfield says.
They started the pilot project a year and a half ago.
“I wish that they would have it more accessible to the parents on the far side of the county,” says Suzanne Reeves. Reeves works at the Halifax County Library and sees at least 130 people come in a day, most to utilize the Internet.
Her children are home-schooled. She says her current provider is limited.
“When my girls watch videos for their instructor it does eat it up.” They then have to do their work at the library. Next year she plans to send her kids back to public school, but says either way it’s essential. MBC says nearly seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires broadband access. It is estimated that the network will reach 3,000 students in homes in Halifax and Charlotte counties.
It would be free of charge with access to educational material only, according to Satterfield, “School sites that they can access in school they can access at home.”
Phase two of the project will encompass more of the entire community.
“With more internet they can do surfing, they can pay bills online, that would be great,” Reeves says. They can do things that normal people would do when they come here to the library.”
MBC hopes to be able to reach more students in their homes by the end of 2017. To access this you must be a student in Halifax or Charlotte Counties public schools.
It’s a wifi-based network so students have signed up for it.
The Tobacco Commission, Microsoft, and MBC are providing the funds to make the project possible.