Nationwide schools are shifting toward distance learning models as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many families in Winchester City do not have the resources necessary to effectively transition to a home-based distance learning environment. A recent survey of students in Winchester Public Schools found that approximately 10 percent of students reported they do not have access to broadband internet.
In an effort to help reduce the digital divide, Winchester Public Schools is proud to announce a partnership with Comcast to sponsor the cost of the company’s Internet Essentials Program for eligible households in need of home broadband. Internet Essentials is Comcast’s affordable broadband plan for low-income families that qualify for a variety of public assistance programs. The program offers speeds of 50Mbps for a monthly fee of $9.95, which Winchester Public Schools will cover for participating families.
The district has allocated an initial amount of $60,000 for the initiative, enough funding to pay for 12 months of service for up to 500 households. Funding is provided in part by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, in addition to donations from our philanthropic foundation partners J2W Foundation and Opportunity Scholars. Similarly, funding from these sources will help to ensure students with unstable housing situations can also have access to the Internet by providing mobile hotspots available for student check-out from each of the district’s seven schools.
Internet For All
The sponsorship program is the result of an Internet for All task force led by Winchester Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Van Heukelum, which includes additional members of the WPS senior leadership, as well as members of Winchester City Government, Winchester City EDA, regional philanthropic foundations, etc. The task force has been meeting regularly since early May and has actively involved representatives from local Internet Service Providers Comcast and Shentel, as well as joining with the Governor’s Chief Broadband Advisor, Evan Feinman, and other members of his team.
For questions, please contact:
Director of Technology
Winchester Public Schools