WARREN COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Broadband and internet service are crucial in rural areas as schools transition to virtual learning. The Warren County School System understands the importance all too well.
“We know virtual learning is not good for us,” Carole Jean Carey, the Superintendent of the Warren County School System, says. “It’s not good for the kids. It’s psychologically hard on kids and teachers.”
Warren County students have been learning from home since Winter Break due to the number of COVID-19 cases in the community. In-person classes will resume February 22.
Carey says the county has been “dead last” in the state “in terms of connectivity.” Her team distributed laptops, deployed rangers and set up hotspots throughout the county to bring internet to students. It even opened its gym as a hotspot area. However, many students have had trouble logging onto class for various reasons. Two-thirds of county residents live in unincorporated areas, which rely on satellite service.
“It’s so hard to try to have school when you can’t have school.”
Improving broadband service is at the top of the Warren County Board of Commissioner’s agenda. It is exploring several different options, including partnering with technology companies and setting up its own broadband infrstructure. However, it is expsensive. John Graham, the board’s chairman, says the county is exploring grant and bond opportuntiies.
“You need the infrastructure,” he says. “It’s hard to have enough people to sign up for the service to make it feasible when the county is small and rural.”
Graham says this type of project will take years to complete once it is funded and approved. When it is completed, it will help the county support existing jobs and attract new ones. It will also bring relief to the school district and its students.
“We need to go ahead and get started to make sure the future is better.”