MN's Rural Students to See Broadband Relief from Federal Bill
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
PRINCETON, Minn. -- President Joe Biden is expected to visit Minnesota today to tout passage of the new federal infrastructure bill.
Those working to fill broadband gaps for students in rural areas say the new plan should be a big help. According to the White House, Minnesota is poised to receive at least $100 million to expand broadband coverage across the state, with the possibility of more funding based on needs in certain areas.
Marc Johnson, executive director of the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative, said as the pandemic took shape, many of the rural districts in his region had to get creative to ensure their students still were getting lesson plans.
"Sending work back and forth on buses, you know, to kids so that they could paper copies of things and things like that," Johnson recounted.
Johnson pointed out it also was hard for rural districts to set up Wi-Fi hot spots to keep students connected, in part because of weaker cellular signals. He added the funding is vital amid concerns students who could not fully participate in distance learning encountered setbacks in their academic performance.
Johnson also serves on the Governor's Task Force on Broadband. He emphasized Minnesota's east-central region serves as a "bullseye" for underserved areas when it comes to high-speed internet. He noted the extra money will take a lot of pressure off families and schools.
"Districts won't have to spend the money that they're spending right now on all of these measures to help families that don't have access," Johnson stated.
Combined with the $70 million in broadband spending approved by the state earlier this year, Johnson predicted the federal investment will "move the needle" in reducing gaps. Currently, 12% of Minnesota households do not have an internet subscription. The White House said the new funding will also help with internet affordability.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
Statistics show thanks to the pandemic, Americans are now glued to their digital devices an average of 13 hours a day, up from 7 or 8 hours a day …
As Democrats in Congress struggle to get enough votes to pass new federal voter protections, Denver's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day "Marade" - a …
Today, the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, comes a chance to put our ideals into action on the sixth annual National Day of Racial …
Health and Wellness
As many Virginia schools pivot back to temporary virtual learning, some students are spending more time in front of screens. In response, the …
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comments through the end of this month regarding a proposal which would sharply reduce m…
Connecticut has secured its first National Estuarine Research Reserve along part of the state's Long Island Sound. Conservationists applaud the news …
A ballot initiative in Missouri is seeking to change the way statewide elections are run. Currently, in the Show-Me State, there are party primaries …
Proposed legislation would end subsidies for wood-burning power plants in Massachusetts by removing biomass as an eligible fuel source for the Commonw…