NORFOLK, Va. - Lots of families are actively online in their households, but there are others who are left out because they cannot afford the internet connection.
For those families with children, it could mean falling behind on their schoolwork.
"Just having that internet access will give them the access to being able to still be involved in school and not miss so much,” Jennifer Stutz said.
Stutz is a schoolteacher who said she's had students whose homes didn't have internet because it was unaffordable.
“It makes it harder for those kids because then they're starting to fall behind because they're not able to keep up with the classwork that's being posted online or the Zooms that the teachers can help with," Stutz said.
Meanwhile, Angelique LeBlanc with Cox Communications said the internet can be within reach and cheap.
“If these K-12 students qualify for the National Free or Reduced Lunch Program, or SNAP,” LeBlanc explained, “they can apply for high-speed Internet at home, which will only be $9.95 a month."
She is talking about Cox's Connect 2 Compete program, which is geared to those families with financial needs. The service provides those needy families with internet service of 50 megabytes down and a modem.
"It’s really touching when you hear the stories from parents,” LeBlanc said. “We hear it from teachers that before the students had access at home, they were sitting in public parking lots trying to connect individual learning through public Wi-Fi in their cars."
There are other resources where you can find affordable internet services. One such resource is the non-profit website EveryoneOn.org. The page asks for your ZIP code and the benefits you're receiving, and it will generate internet services available in your area and their price.
LeBlanc spoke on federal programs such as the Emergency Connectivity Fund. This program has allowed federal money to go to school districts to cover the cost of internet devices for the home. For this program, LeBlanc said parents will need to inquire through their schools for more information and to apply.
She also mentioned the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which allows for a discount of up to $50 a month on broadband connections. The program is geared towards those experiencing financial hardship such as from the pandemic.
“Our students are our future workforce, so we definitely want to do all we can to help,” LeBlanc said.
Even if you've been denied before, LeBlanc suggested to inquire and apply again as requirements to qualify do change.