Washington County will get nearly $173,000 to increase internet access for students who will start the school year with virtual classes because of COVID-19.
The $172,935 in grant money is part of $10 million Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday to expand broadband service to help students throughout the state.
Of the $10 million, nearly $8 million will go to 21 jurisdictions in Maryland, including Washington County, to increase internet access.
The other $2 million will fund a feasibility and design study for a new statewide wireless network solely dedicated for educational use.
The grant funding will be provided by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and administered by the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband.
“Our administration is committed to expanding broadband to every corner of our state, and as many local school systems prepare for remote or hybrid learning models in the fall, this access is more important than ever,” Hogan said in a statement Thursday. “These grants will support partnerships between the state, local governments, and internet service providers to ensure distance learning options are available and accessible for all Maryland students.”
In urban areas where students have access to broadband, the grants will be used to help unserved students get internet service from an existing provider, the news release states.
In rural areas where broadband infrastructure does not exist, the grants will be used to provide wireless access to students with cellular hotspots or similar resources.
The feasibility studies will focus on a statewide fixed wireless network to further expand access for unserved students in rural areas.
This network is expected to be operational by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, according to the release.
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