WATERLOO — With the help of Mediacom Communications, more than 350 families in Waterloo Community Schools have gained access to high-speed internet for their children’s educational needs since April 7.
Last week, broadband installation was completed for the final set of families, five weeks after district leaders put in motion a plan to ensure that its students would have the technology to access online learning following the state-mandated closure of schools in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
District officials distributed school Chromebooks to students in second through fifth grades. Waterloo Schools’ technology team developed a plan to work with local broadband providers to fill gaps for students without internet access at home. Secondary students already had school-issued Chromebook computers through an existing technology initiative.
Mediacom adapted its Connect2Compete program, a low-cost internet service for students who are eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals, to assist the district. Internet service was installed in the homes of more than 175 families through the program.
In addition, the company activated internet service for another 172 families who chose individual subscriptions using the program, paying a flat-rate monthly fee of $9.95 with no contract or deposit. In response to COVID-19, new families eligible for the program can get 60 days of complimentary internet service.
“Education equity is a top priority for Waterloo Schools, and in 2020, an internet connection and computer are essential components in the equity equation,” Matt O’Brien, Waterloo Schools’ executive director for technology, said in a news release. “Mediacom’s broadband network is widely available throughout our community, and we were pleased with the company’s willingness to step forward to be part of the solution and investment we needed.”
The school district is responsible for monthly internet service offered at the same discounted rate of $9.95 for each household within in a bulk service agreement. Mediacom donated 100% of the costs for installation labor and materials, including a no-cost lease for the wifi-equipped modems activated in each home.
“We previously made a commitment to invest company resources in a meaningful way that helps low-income families gain the connectivity they need to support their children’s education,” Corey Bowman, Mediacom’s area operations director, said in the news release. He noted that “in a COVID-19 world, a connection to Mediacom’s fiber-based network is more essential than ever.”
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