As schools have gone online, Williamson County Schools will now ask each family about its internet capabilities.
The survey will ask students in kindergarten through 11th grades. Officials said the district will conduct the survey via its phone notification system beginning May 7 at 7 p.m. Schools have been shuttered since mid-March and transitioned to Zoom across the district.
Superintendent Jason Golden said in a district news release the decision to use the phone as a survey tool will allow all families the opportunity to participate since not all households have internet access.
“The results will help inform us of the needs of our families as we prepare for school next fall and tell us if we will need to purchase additional resources over the summer,” Golden said. “I hope all families will participate.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission, some parts of Williamson County have only one service provider available to them, particularly in the more remote parts. The closer to a municipality, the better chance students have for their parents to pick among at least two or three internet providers. Up to 5% of the county has no provider.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its state partners announced that $9 million would go into rural broadband infrastructure in Tennessee from an internet and phone dead zone out in the Allisona area of Williamson County. A rollout of that size will include four internet companies and touch nearly a dozen counties in the state as part of the USDA’s ReConnect pilot program.
United Communications is part of that program, which will use $3.3 million for about 2,700 customers in Wilson, Rutherford, Maury and Williamson counties across 48 square miles.
To figure out where Williamson families are with internet coverage, the survey will have two questions:
- Do you have internet access in your home? Press one for yes. Press two for no.
- If you do have internet access, do you consider your internet access reliable most of the time? Press one for yes. Press two for no. Press three for “Do not have internet.”
Families will receive a call on May 5 to remind them that the survey call will be made on May 7.
Families who do not respond to the call will have the opportunity again May 8.
Emily West is a reporter for The Tennessean, covering Franklin and Williamson County. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @emwest22.
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