McMaster, Spearman announce new initiative aimed at delivering education to students in rural areas

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)–Broadband access is the biggest challenge the state faces while trying to educate our students during this pandemic. But Wednesday morning, Governor Henry McMaster announced a new initiative to connect more students.

The South Carolina Department of Education is partnering with the state’s broadcast system to send virtual lesson plans to students who don’t have internet access.

“Our entire community needs to continue to recognize the importance of our children have an access to these educational services,” said Governor McMaster.

School has started across the state, but thousands of students are having trouble accessing their lesson plans because they don’t have internet. To address those limitations the state has spent the summer acquiring mobile hot spots for students and encouraging existing internet providers to expand their networks.

McMaster continued, “Our economic strength has been recognized as being dependent on our education.”

But even those efforts won’t put internet in every student’s home. Wednesday morning, a new initiative announced in response.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman explained, “Datacasting will allow SCETV to transmit files, video, and computer data to computers just using an inexpensive tuner and TV antenna. This will allow our students to access important educational lessons without needing the internet.”

The initiative is not a replacement for broadband but it does provide a quicker short term solution.

“Many homes have access to a television or TV antenna or cable but don’t have access to broadband internet,” added Representative Raye Felder.

The program will start in October in York, Jasper and Fairfield counties.

In total, the state is spending about $4 million to provide the equipment SCETV needs to transmit the signal and the devices students need to receive it.

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