New grant helping improve internet access in Queen Anne's County

Posted at 5:15 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 17:15:53-04

QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY, Md. — School at home is a reality for Marylander's now. Last year, virtual learning was a challenge...this year remote schooling will be even bigger.

Governor Larry Hogan released $10 million for internet connectivity to 21 of the 24 jurisdictions in the state. With virtual schooling in the mix for this year, access to the internet is one of the biggest problems and it's an expensive fix.

"It will cost between $38 and $42 million to run fiber connectivity throughout the county."

Jim Moran is one of the county commissioners in Queen Anne's County. Queen Anne's County reserved a $708,000 grant for internet improvements. This is the 4th highest amount in the state, it's a lot for a reason.

"We have probable by land mass, I would say probable 40% of the county is not covered," Moran said.

Moran says the pandemic has exposed some problems in the school systems and no internet for home learning is at the top of that list.

The county in previous years supplied chrome books for every student, now getting them connected is key. The school system will try several solutions. Getting portable wifi devices to take home, installing wifi hubs so one can drive to a school parking lot and log on are in the works.

There are some places in the county where it can be up to a 40 minute drive to get to a school parking lot to use their WiFi, so they are looking into other options to make it more convenient.

"So we are looking at putting them in the parks or other private locations in the county throughout the county to make it easier access for the students and their parents to get connectivity for their education," he explained. "This money can be used to cover some of the cost from last year to help students with internet problems."