Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus, Upshur County Board of Education President Dr. Tammy Samples, Vice President Katie Loudin, and BOE members Dr. Greenbrier Almond and Kristi Wilkerson join with Upshur County Schools Technology System Specialists Kayla Yocum and Quinten Oldaker to unveil a check from the Federal Communications Commission Emergency Connectivity Fund in the amount of $1.14 million during Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting held at Tennerton Elementary School. The grant funds will be used to provide better internet coverage for Upshur County Schools students and staff. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Upshur County Schools awarded $1.14 million for wireless hotspots for students

TENNERTON – Many Upshur County Schools students and staff members need to work remotely, whether that is due to a snow day, completing homework or preparing lesson plans and activities.

In West Virginia where internet connectivity is not available or is limited, that can pose a problem.

During Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting at Tennerton Elementary School, members learned that Upshur County Schools received $1,146,430 from the Emergency Connectivity Fund of the Federal Communications Commission to provide better internet access for Upshur County students. The funds will cover reasonable costs for technology and devices.

According to their website at www.fcc.gov, the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund is a $7.17 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period.

The ECF will help provide relief to millions of students, school staff and library patrons and will help close the homework gap for students who currently lack necessary internet access to connect to classrooms. Congress authorized the Emergency Connectivity Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Upshur County Schools submitted an application requesting wireless hot spots from AT&T and U.S. Cellular, as well as Apple devices to further support Upshur County’s one-to-one Apple initiative.

Kayla Yocum, technology systems/digital communication specialist, said the grant will allow the Upshur County School system to provide better internet access for Upshur County students. Upshur County Board of Education had previously voted to provide its students with one-to-one devices and this grant will help ensure students are able to use those devices in their homes for homework and remote learning opportunities.

“It will cover reasonable costs for technology and devices,” Yocum reported. “We submitted this application for wireless hot spots from AT&T and U.S. Cellular and for Apple devices to further support the Upshur County School initiative to provide 1:1 devices.”

Yocum said Upshur County Schools was awarded the $1.1 million grant to provide access for Upshur County students and teachers.

“We are really pleased for this opportunity and are excited to see what it can do for our children, our staff and the betterment of our schools,” Yocum said.

“We are so excited to receive these funds which will allow us to help our students stay connected,” Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said. “As we navigate the challenges of the pandemic, it is evident that our students and their families need greater access to internet connectivity in order to be successful. Receiving these funds will allow us to provide resources to our students and families. We look forward to connecting our county and creating equal access for all students in Upshur County Schools.”

Stankus said the grant will allow teachers to take hot spots home with them and will help any student who does not have internet in their home and allow Upshur County Schools to pay for their internet service in their home.

“We are really excited about this opportunity,” Stankus said.

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