To help decrease the amounts of so-called “digital deserts,” Greenville County Schools announced Friday, Oct. 30 its initiative Project Connect, which will provide free internet to families that cannot afford it.
These digital deserts negatively affect hundreds of students, according to a release from school district. GCS will buy and construct 42 solar-powered Wi-Fi units and position them across the county.
During the school district’s shutdown last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, superintendent Burke Royster said, “it became immediately apparent to us that we had areas in our county had poor internet connectivity.” That, Royster said, prevented students from completing their assignments. At the time, the district amped up Wi-Fi in school facilities and on school buses that were placed in strategic locations.
“Deployment of this technology will assist large segments of Greenville County’s population not only during this unprecedented pandemic, but also beyond when the crisis has passed,” said Bill Brown, executive director of GCS education technology services.
Greenville County provided the $248,000 in CARES Act funding to build the Wi-Fi units along with assistance from corporate partners Cradlepoint, Encore Technology Group, Network Controls, Sun Surveillance and Synnex Corporation.
The units will provide internet access to students and to those in the community.