School closures due to COVID-19 required schools to quickly shift instruction from the classroom to the home. Many students were unable to receive online instruction due to the lack of internet service at home. In some cases, students did not have access to the internet; in other cases, it may not have been affordable.
A portion of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) has been allocated for mobile hotspots or monthly internet service. The ORS is working with the South Carolina Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and private school associations to procure mobile hotspots and monthly internet service through December 31, 2020 for distribution to a minimum of 100,000 households.
NOTE: Funding for the Online Learning Initiative is still available and the ORS is continuing to take orders for mobile hotspots and monthly internet service.
- One mobile hotspot or internet service per qualifying student household
-Except where multiple students live in a qualifying student household and online learning is diminished without additional hotspots being provided. If wired internet service is available, consideration will be given as to whether wired internet service would be superior to the option of adding additional hotspots.
- Paid monthly service through December 31, 2020
- Minimum of 100,000 households
Schools – public and private K-12 schools, public and private colleges, universities, and technical colleges – must complete a Memorandum of Understanding and submit an order form to the ORS. Schools will need to provide the ORS the addresses of eligible households as soon as possible. This information will enable the ORS to determine the best available option for the households. Schools will be responsible for distributing the mobile hotspots to eligible households.
Schools will be required to complete a Monthly Reporting Spreadsheet. The Monthly Reporting Spreadsheet will be used to track devices as they are distributed. It will also be used to track devices no longer in use or reassigned. The Monthly Reporting Spreadsheet needs to be sent to the ORS via email by the 5th of each month.
- Households with an annual income of 250 percent or less of federal poverty guidelines
- An individual in the household attends a school
- The household does not have existing internet service
- The mobile hotspot is necessary as a result of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19
- The cost of mobile hotspots and related service was not accounted for in a school’s budget as it existed on March 27, 2020
- Priority will be given to households in counties that contain a school district that has been defined by the South Carolina Department of Education as having a poverty rate greater than or equal to 86 percent
Monthly Internet Service
Depending on the location, wired internet service may be available, and the ORS has received quotes from multiple wired providers offering competitive pricing. Schools will need to provide the ORS addresses of those qualifying households in order to consider wired internet service as an alternative. The ORS has received quotes from these companies (PDF). If you are a company that has submitted a quote to the ORS for wired broadband service and do not see your company listed, please contact Kari Munn.