BULLOCH COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) – Some schools may have started reopening but many students are still learning remotely. That’s now highlighting the need for internet and technology in rural communities.
“In the rural areas, a lot of individuals who do not have access to broadband services so they use their cellular phone minutes to access the wifi but those minutes run out,” Nkenge Jackson with the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center said.
The center has been selected to receive a CARES Act grant for $109,420. This will help expand internet access and improve educational opportunities for students.
“We’re going to start first by expanding our internet and wifi into our parking lot,” Jackson told News 3.
The grant will help purchase more than 60 laptops so students have the technology they need to complete assignments and video meetings with teachers. The students will be able to complete their work in an outdoor facility until the pandemic is under control.
The project will also benefit community members through a facility re-opening under CDC guidelines and an improved media center that includes desktop computer workstations for job searching, genealogy research, and information sharing.
“Not only a destination but a safe space. We are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and outdoor spaces with good airflow are safer than indoor spaces,” Jackson said.
The Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center are seeking public support to build a large scale pavilion with wifi access so that families can spread out.
Two paid staff members and student volunteers from Georgia Southern University will help with the technology and help students with homework. The hope is to create a new destination for students and adults who need access to the internet.
The grant money will span over two years and the center is currently looking for community partners to help with the project.