SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Schools across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry implemented remote learning this school year to keep students safe.
But many schools in rural counties have faced challenges with internet access and supplying enough devices for students to learn from home.
Virtual learning requires each student to have access to devices like laptops or tablets and internet service from Wi-Fi or mobile hot spots, which can pose issues for rural county schools.
Many of them used the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to cover the cost of devices and connectivity for remote learning since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
Last May, Georgia public school districts received $411,452,867 in COVID-19 relief funds.
Newly-elected Sen. Jon Ossoff addressed the school’s concerns about getting support as the CARES Act was set to expire at the end of December.
He says they can expect continued funding to ensure remote learning is accessible for all students.
“I will be pushing to make sure school districts, state and local governments, and families are getting the direct relief that they need to weather this storm,” Ossoff said.
“And my team and I are in contact with the White House to make sure that those resources fit Georgia’s needs and are going to serve the people of Georgia as soon as possible,” he added.
Ossoff says his team is working to ensure schools in rural districts will get the same educational opportunities as students in more populated areas.
“Conversations are swiftly evolving that the COVID relief package is passed as fast as possible,” Ossoff said.
Many rural districts relied on paper packets during the 2020-2021 school year since not every household had an available device students could learn on.
Ossoff says if remote learning continues, the goal is for each student to have access to their own device at home.
“I am going to make sure Georgia school districts are getting the supplementary support they need so that we can educate our kids and provide public service, that families are getting the direct stimulus checks they need to stay in their homes and on their feet,” Ossoff said.
“We’re also opening emergency medical facilities to serve parts of the state where rural hospitals have closed in the last few years,” he added.