Rural Broadband Issues for students Learning from Home

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The pandemic is forcing a number of students to learn from home, but some families are facing internet connection problems.

Families in rural areas say the limited and sometimes non-existent broadband service makes learning challenging for students.

“We lose connection quite a bit,” Stacy Hartman, parent in Blairs Mills, Huntingdon County, said.

Stacy has an 8th grade student and a Senior in high school.
This year, her kids do school at home, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Friday. She says that’s difficult because the internet runs slow or even stops.

“Without internet now, it’s not just a frustration and an annoyance, it’s our kids are not going to get an education,” Hartman, said.

The Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission is made up of commissioners from Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Huntingdon, Fulton, and Somerset counties they’re working along with Fayette and Westmoreland counties to get funding for a broadband project.

“Understanding that, that maybe a challenge, the December 30th date will be a challenge, we’re actively identifying other state and federal funding opportunities that we can pursue, to start to build this infrastructure out,” Brandon Carson, Director of Planning and Community Development for the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission, said.

Carson says, right now, they’re waiting to hear back from one of their federal partners, the Appalachian Regional Commission, for a $200,000 plus grant. They expect to hear back by this Fall.

Carson says the Southern Alleghenies Planning Commission is going to start the process of bringing broadband access to the 8 counties by Spring 2021, on a pilot basis. The project would be phased as state and federal grant money becomes available.

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