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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

Internet Providers Offering Free Wi-Fi For Families Of Students In Need

[Flamingo Images / Shutterstock]
A girl looks at a laptop screen.

Many students in Northeast Ohio picked up Chromebooks to take home during a mandated “extended spring break,” as Ohioans ride out the COVID-19 outbreak in their homes and away from schools. But many students don’t have internet access, so local school districts are working to make sure students stay connected.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) CEO Eric Gordon said there are some real “internet deserts” in the district.

 “Knowing that we serve a very large number of children in poverty, we can estimate that a great many of them don't have internet,” said Gordon. “We know they have devices, but we also know that they often rely on free internet access sites to connect those devices.” 

With that in mind, CMSD is guiding all families in need to the offer of free internet made by Spectrum Cable, for qualifying low-income families.

“Which most of our families do, said Gordon. “[The Specturm offer is for] 60 days, including the hookup fees and the equipment. Then for those whose income level doesn't provide the free access, they have created a low-cost program as well. We're really, really pleased with Spectrum's response to help our families be connected.”

Comcast Cable is also offering free internet to low-income families during the coronavirus pandemic. Comcast is also waiving late fees and will not disconnect service during this crisis.

Flyers explaining the offers from both companies went out along with the Chromebooks passed out to Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District students earlier this week.

In the Willoughby-Eastlake School district, Superintendent Steve Thompson said roughly 5 percent of the district’s 8,000 students don’t have Wi-Fi at home. To ensure everyone stays connected while schools are closed, the district spent $70,000 on hotspots for students in need before they headed home.

Willoughby-Eastlake is also guiding students to the free access being offered by the internet providers, Thompson said.


Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”