Guilford County Board of Education Approves Internet Access Agreement
August 11, 2022 – Guilford County Schools (GCS) continues its mission to close the digital divide and enhance learning outcomes for all students. At its August 9 meeting, the Guilford County Board of Education approved a service agreement with Technology and Data Institute (TDI).
The agreement will establish a pilot program to provide reliable, high-speed internet service to the homes of some GCS families. The pilot program will design, build, and operate a 5g wireless network that supports internet connection for Guilford County Schools’ families in designated high-density areas.
The district used lessons learned from the pandemic, census track data, and a 2021 Guilford County broadband gap study to identify high-density locations with the highest need for internet connectivity for the pilot program. Selected families will not have to apply to participate in the program but will be notified and provided with devices to connect to the service.
According to the State of North Carolina, more than one million households lack access to a high-speed internet connection, about half of them are priced out of internet access, and 19% of households with children do not have high-speed internet subscriptions. The barrier to internet access in higher poverty urban centers consistently hindered many GCS students during the pandemic as they were required to learn from their homes.
GCS will continue to provide all students with laptops to support mobile learning. In March 2022, NC Rep. Kathy Manning secured $1.5 million in federal funding to support the program. The district will also use $1 million of Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to cover the cost of the project.
The network is scheduled to be installed within the next two years. The pilot program will phase in after the network installation is complete.
About Technology and Data Institute
TDI is a public services consortium that includes GCS, the City of High Point, the City of Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), and the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG.) The consortium was created to provide technology, data readiness, and capacity to the Piedmont-Triad.