USA: Calling on FCC to waive program restrictions for remote learning

USA/ 26 February 2021/ Source/

By News Staff

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — A coalition of attorneys general, including Attorney General Mark Herring, has called on the Federal Communications Commission to fund Internet connectivity.

According to a release, the 30 attorneys general say the FCC should also fund Internet-enabled devices for K-12 students whose schools are closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and who are learning online at home or somewhere else.
“Internet and broadband access has become crucial to Virginians’ daily lives during the COVID pandemic as they have been forced to move school, work, health care, and almost everything else online,” said Herring. “Our children have been learning remotely for almost a full year now and we should be making it as easy as possible for them and their parents to have access to affordable internet services and devices.”  
The FCC asked for comment this month on petitions urging it to temporarily waive some restrictions on the E-Rate program.
This program allows schools to expand their broadband Internet networks to students’ homes and to allow funds from it to support Wi-Fi hotspots or other broadband connections for students who lack adequate connectivity to participate in remote classes.
The attorneys general sent a letter to the FCC urging prompt action to “unlock the doors of the virtual classroom while physical schools remain closed.”

The release says the E-Rate program provides funding to better connect schools and libraries in all parts of the United States.

Across the country, at least 55 million K-12 students have at one time or another been forced to rely on online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The attorneys general says when the schools are closed, rooms in the house become the classroom and should get the same E-Rate support.
The release says a recent survey of more than 2,000 E-Rate program participants found that 93 percent reported they would use such funding to connect students at home for virtual schooling if allowed by the FCC.

In their letter, the attorneys general also say that given the special circumstances of the pandemic, the FCC has the authority to amend or waive E-Rate program rules as necessary to provide connectivity for remote schooling.


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