Back in September, the Citywide Classroom partnership between the City of South Bend, enFocus, and the South Bend Community School Corporation received 1.8 million dollars of state funding to expand student internet access during the pandemic.
Next week, the partnership will begin distributing over 2,000 at-home internet packages and about 2,000 WiFi hotspots to students with limited broadband access, which City of South Bend spokesperson Caleb Bauer said is about 15-30 percent of students in the district.
“That’s a serious issue, and that’s why it’s important that it’s reaching those students and that they’re not falling through the cracks,” Bauer said.
The program was piloted earlier this month. About 100 hotspots and 50 at-home subscriptions were provided to students in the South Bend Empowerment Zone and Washington High School.
Bauer said each school has an administrator in charge of identifying students who would benefit from the program.
“Perhaps they’re doing it by looking at attendance records during e-learning," Bauer said. "They could do it by hearing from teachers who have raised concerns to the school’s administration.”
After that, the district and enFocus will work together to get the equipment into families’ homes. Bauer said the program should be available district-wide by mid-November.
If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating here.