Over a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is finally stepping up and supporting some of its most vulnerable citizens in the country affected by the pandemic; families and their school aged children. If you are a low income family or a family who has experienced substantial changes in income since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been struggling to afford internet service, help may be on the way with these two bills.
First Bill To Aid Lower Income Households
The first bill called the Emergency Broadband Benefit was passed by the Trump administration on his last few days in office. This bill is to help keep families connected with a $50 monthly discount on internet access and a $75 monthly discount on tribal lands for lower income households that qualify for service. Also within the Emergency Broadband Benefit is a one-time $100 reimbursement for an internet enabled device.
To get this $50 monthly discount on service or the $100 reimbursement, interested families need to consult with their internet provider and provide proof of qualification. Those who qualify parents of children’s who are eligible for free or discounted school lunch, Pell Grant college financial aid recipients, and families who already qualify for other existing low-income internet options.
Second Bill To Get Students Connected
The second bill called the American Rescue Plan Act was passed by the Biden Administration within his first 100 days in office. It lets schools and libraries share their Wi-Fi beyond their own property lines so that nearby students, staffs, and other members of the community can connect.
All parents, students, staffs, and members of the community in need of internet connectivity should contact their local library or school on how to connect.
Both Bills To Close In On The Homework Gap
Both the Emergency Broadband Benefit and the American Rescue Plan Act were passed to address the glaring problem that the coronavirus has shined a light on; kids can’t complete their homework if they don’t have reliable internet at home. No internet access or an unreliable form of internet access puts families and children at a serious disadvantage academically. They can’t communicate with their teachers, do research, submit homework, ask questions or complete tests without high-speed internet access at home. Even after America resumes to normal in person teaching, these kids will still need a reliable source of internet connectivity to succeed in school and the rest of their lives.
The Homework Gap In America
The homework gap is a phrase coined during the COVID-19 pandemic that refers to the lack of internet connectivity school age children have at home to complete their schoolwork. It’s estimated by the Pew Research Center that up to 15% of households in America that have school age children at home do not have a high-speed internet connection at home. The homework gap is more prevalent in black, hispanic, and low-income households, but it’s everywhere. Rural America, urban America and everywhere in between in suburbia are affected by the homework gap.