Colorado legislators met earlier this week, unanimously passing bills to expand broadband access for Colorado students, and releasing funds for emergency child care and food pantry assistance, reports WesternSlopeNow.com. Lawmakers acted quickly to aid state residents still coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think our job has changed in the fact that we really got to make sure we’re reaching the students for training and their parents,” said Technology Services Director Dan Burke. “We’re troubleshooting a lot of things that are off home networks, like off of a home router, and so when we’re trying to troubleshoot it, it makes it really hard for us to be able to help students on home networks that we’re not familiar with.”
House Bill 1001 makes $20 million in funding available to school districts that apply to Colorado’s Department of Education for broadband help. For many students who don’t have internet at home, mobile hotspots are a quick way to get them connected. In Mesa County, for example, the state has partnered with T-Mobile to set up 1,200 WiFi hotspots so far, with plans for 1,300 more.
“The way we’ll see it here is going to be through cellular,” said Burke. “I hope that some of the cellular companies beef up or strengthen their networks around here to help us.” The funds are expected to be available in early 2021, allowing school districts to make their requests now.