BOULDER, Colo. — Thousands of families across Colorado will benefit from an initiative to provide reliable broadband internet services at the homes of every student in the state. Gov. Jared Polis announced a plan to get broadband internet to all students, especially those who come from families who qualify for free and reduced lunches.
In Colorado, more than 65,000 students still do not have reliable internet services, which impacts their ability to receive the same quality of education as the rest of their classmates.
While many may have entered remote learning without concern for their abilities to connect with their teachers, thousands entered the school year without confidence.
“I was kind of nervous (to start the school year),” said Grace Lokulang, the mother of twins in kindergarten. “When the governor said schools will go online, I was kind of worried about my work and who was going to help the kids.”
Lokulang told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas she didn’t have adequate internet services for online learning. When her children tried their online classes, the community internet which she typically uses didn’t operate quick enough.
“It was really (slow),” Lokulang said. “It is going to affect all the children that are not accessing the internet right now. They are going to be behind. Everything, pretty much, is online. I cannot imagine working with my kids without internet.”
Lokulang said she called her students’ district, Boulder Valley Schools, and told them she was concerned about her children’s internet capabilities. She was quickly assisted and given instructions on how to contact Xfinity to receive proper WiFi access.
“I was like maybe they are going to be late. I was kind of nervous,” Lokulang said. “I am by myself, their daddy is in Africa. He is stuck in Africa because of COVID-19.”
Lokulang was able to get fast internet speeds in her home before the start of the school year.
“I picked a package without paying anything. That was great,” Lokulang said. “Right now it is free for six months.”
Just days ago Lokulang was concerned that her family wouldn’t be able to complete school work and homework during remote learning. But, thanks to local schools and companies coming together, she said her students are enjoying being back to school.
“It is amazing to see them paying attention to the teachers. They are learning something from scrolling the chromebook,” Lokulang said. “It makes me feel happy.”
As for the state’s plan to get broadband out to the public through a partnership with T-Mobile, they say those who qualify for free and reduced lunch will be given access.
Also, the Department or Education plans to contribute $2 million to the initiative.
While Lokulang received her internet access through the assistance of BVSD, she encouraged those capable to continue offering cheap, or free, internet access to parents for the purpose of their child’s education.
“This will be really helpful if they can continue with these services until maybe the pandemic is over,” Lokulang said.
Gov. Jared Polis announced a partnership with T-Mobile to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots and 100 GB of data to 34,000 students who come from low income households. The Colorado Department of Education estimates 65,000 students in the state lack access to the internet.