Coronavirus and Connectivity

Through our Headlines news service, Benton is tracking the role of broadband in the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Click on titles below for full summaries of articles and links to sources.

Will This Be a Lost Year for America’s Children?

As students across the country start school, education experts reckon with the long-term implications of remote learning, vanishing resources, and heightened inequality.

As Fires Disrupt Schools, ‘the Pandemic Has Actually Helped’

After wildfires consumed an entire town, students and teachers who had planned for remote classes found some comfort in staying connected amid the chaos.

Democrats call for narrowing digital divide to help students during pandemic

Ensuring all US households have high-speed internet will help provide similar education opportunities to students at different income levels, particularly during the pandemic, Democrats said. “Education justice involves giving everybody the same access to information,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL).

Coronavirus may preview an acceleration of the digital divide

The coronavirus crisis may offer a grim preview of further marginalization for Americans of color in the coming decades, a new Deutsche Bank report concludes. "COVID is a picture of what the world might look like in the future as it gets more digitized," Apjit Walia, a technology strategist with Deutsche Bank, told Axios.

Sen Warner Leads Colleagues in Letter Urging ISPs to Adopt New Policies to Support Wider Internet Access During COVID-19

Sen Mark Warner (D-VA) led 10 other senators in calling on the seven largest internet service providers (ISPs) to do their part to limit the economic and social disruption caused by COVID-19 and help ensure that children are able to meaningfully participate in their education. These letters come as unprecedented numbers of students rely on remote learning to kick off the fall semester due to the ongoing public health crisis. 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Letter on Broadband Connectivity and the Homework Gap

The US Chamber of Commerce urgently calls on Congress to provide the funding necessary to ensure students without sufficient access to digital tools do not fall behind. In addition, Congress should fully fund the “Broadband DATA Act” signed into law in March, which would allow the Federal Communications Commission to better facilitate long-term digital resilience.

Democratic policymakers call for narrowing digital divide to help students during pandemic

Ensuring all US households have high-speed internet will help provide similar education opportunities to students at different income levels, particularly during the pandemic, Democratic policymakers said. “Education justice involves giving everybody the same access to information,” said Rep Donna Shalala (D-FL). Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, “We need a national policy of 100 percent of our households online,” she said.

Chairman Pai Welcomes Connectivity Initiative for K-12 Remote Learning

I thank NCTA and the EducationSuperHighway for launching this initiative to make it easier for students in low-income families to connect to the Internet. With the start of the school year and the continued reliance upon remote learning in many parts of the country, it is essential that students have the connectivity they need to continue their education

U.S. Cable Industry Announces New “K-12 Bridge to Broadband” Initiative

NCTA – the Internet & Television Association, in partnership with EducationSuperHighway (ESH), announced a new initiative to help increase home connectivity solutions for students, as many schools adapt to remote and hybrid learning classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic. The K-12 Bridge to Broadband initiative will scale innovative solutions that are helping public school districts and states identify and potentially connect students in low-income families, enabling more students to participate in remote or hybrid learning.

USDA Invests Nearly $10 Million in High-Speed Broadband in Rural Tennessee

The Trump Administration announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $10 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Tennessee. This investment is part of both the $100 million Congress allocated to the ReConnect Program through the CARES Act and the $550 million available in the second round of ReConnect Program Funding.