BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Instead of driving into town, people living in rural areas will have the chance to do work or learn from the convenience of their homes, following a 16-million-dollar grant issued to expand broadband to those in Burke County.

“Being in a rural area– even though we had our device– without the internet connection or very spotty connection, just made it hard to keep a four-year-old’s attention.”

Jaymie Miettenen has lived in Burke County all her life and thought she’d never see the day where she’d have this kind of easy access. 

“It’s crucial for us to have the internet so that they can get those lessons. The teachers have worked hard to put those lessons together to bridge those gaps so that they’re always moving forward.”

And after the pandemic, people’s only option was the internet. Now, students use “learn from home” days that require parents to be ‘teachers’ as well. 

“Trying to teach a child how to work on the internet, how to work on a computer to do any of his lessons was pretty difficult,” Miettenen said.

Jada Curd is a senior at Burke County high school who’s getting ready to further her education at college. 

“Because Burke County is so far away from certain towns and places like Atlanta, we require the internet to have just certain opportunities. Like even, for example, I do a lot of my competitions over line, and I need the internet to be able to submit things,” Curd said.

The expansion could make life a lot easier for teachers. 

“Teaching virtually or I’m trying to upload lessons, because it’s difficult when you’re trying to upload things and you can’t because of the weak signal. So, I am so happy that this grant is here,” Blakeney Elementary Fourth Grade teacher Pamela Green said.

And beyond the doors of a class, broadband services will help fill gaps in the Burke County community.

“Of course, we’re a farming community and this broadband is imperative to our farmers and our small businesses that are getting started up or established here. Without the internet, we’re just kind of lagging behind everybody else,” Miettenen said.

Parents, faculty, and students in Burke County are looking forward to higher-speed internet access and the opportunity to strengthen their community.