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Gov. Andy Beshear offers way to expand internet to low-income students

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration has unveiled a statewide initiative to supply internet access to low-income homes in Kentucky.

The effort comes as Kentucky schools open with digital learning because of the coronavirus.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said Tuesday that the $8 million investment is meant to close the “digital divide” leaving some children in rural and urban areas without broadband access at home.

“COVID-19 has not only created new and unique challenges we must confront, it has brought to surface issues that have been plaguing our communities for generations. These underlying issues disproportionately affect communities of color and Kentuckians who live in poverty,” the Lieutenant Governor said. “One of these issues is lack of access to high-speed internet.”

Coleman said before the pandemic, about 90 percent of Kentucky’s K-12 students had internet access. This has grown to 95 percent in the past five months.

“We have to do better for the remaining 5% of students who do not have internet access in their homes,” Lt. Gov. Coleman said.

The initiative will limit monthly costs for low-income homes with K-12 students to have internet access. A request for a proposal is being set out with a goal by September 15 of identifying providers that can supply high-speed internet service for all K-12 students in low-income homes at no more than $10 per month for the next two to three school years.

Students without internet access from low-income homes will be eligible to have the full $10 per month cost paid through the next school year.

Coleman says about 32,000 Kentucky children lack internet access in their homes.

Details will be posted to the Kentucky Department of Education website early next week.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.