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State Transfers Coronavirus Relief to Telecoms to Provide Free Home Internet for Low-Income K-12 Students

She’ll be darned if she’ll spend one red South Dakota cent on coronavirus relief, but Governor Kristi Noem is happy to hand out federal CARES Act dollars and claim credit for doing something about the burdens her pandemic has placed on education and families in South Dakota.

Before rushing off to the Trump rally in Omaha, Noem announced that nineteen telecoms will get CARES Act dollars to provide free home Internet access to lower-income South Dakota families with kids in elementary or secondary school. The K-12 Connect program will run fully subsidized Internet to student homes that didn’t have Internet on July 1, 2020 and where the family income qualifies for free or reduced school lunches. A family of four needs to make less than $48,470 to qualify:

K-12 Connect income thresholds, eligibility form, retrieved 2020.10.28.
K-12 Connect income thresholds, eligibility form, retrieved 2020.10.28.

Evidently the state sent letters Monday to families that qualify, but given the state’s struggles in getting important pandemic information out to all citizens in a timely fashion, families who think they qualify for K-12 Connect are welcome to call (605) 773-3248 or email k12connect@state.sd.us.

Alas, according to the map linked on the K-12 Connect page, there are still some pretty big swaths of South Dakota—some surprisingly close to Sioux Falls and Watertown, as well as big stretches of Indian Country—where free Internet to the home is not available:

South Dakota Broadband Availability Map, from South Dakota Bureau of Information Technology, retrieved 2020.10.28.
South Dakota Broadband Availability Map, from South Dakota Bureau of Information Technology, retrieved 2020.10.28.

In those unserviced areas, the K-12 Connect page says the state may be able to connect families with hot spot service.

3 Comments

  1. mike from iowa 2020-10-28

    Better hurry, then.

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:
    9,039,170
    Deaths:
    232,101

    Another thousand plus dead bodies yesterday.

  2. Curt 2020-10-28

    Free internet service for families of K-12 students may not be life-saving COVID relief but it is definitely a BIG DEAL. Home internet service is ESSENTIAL when distance learning is a significant element of elementary and secondary education. The only down-side to this announcement is that we are 2 months into the school year. This is absolutely wise use of federal Coronavirus relief funds.

  3. Jake 2020-10-28

    I wonder with abated breath, whether this will be about all that education will get from the Covid fund from the feds? Kristi is in a hurry to get to the next Trump rally and get in front of the TV camera-can’t seem to cogitate on providing $$$ from the billion and a quarter she got dropped in her lap to play politician with. How little will education and the needy (Medicaid expansion anyone) receive from these funds as compared to business, ag, and tourism? How about the medical side of things? If she came down with Covid, she would expect the best of what Avera or Sanford could offer, right if John Sixpack comes down with it-it might be bankruptcy or death for him…..

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