Part of the federal $2.2 trillion CARES Act funding will pay for the K-12 Connect program, which will offer internet service at no cost to eligible kindergarten through 12th grade students in their homes for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
“Given the unprecedented disruption for many of our K-12 students, we want to make sure there isn’t a gap in learning this year,” Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday in announcing the program. “So many South Dakotans are stepping up to help, and I want to thank the South Dakota telecommunications companies that are teaming up with us to make this access possible.”
Households must meet all of the following to qualify:
- Have at least one student currently enrolled in an accredited South Dakota K-12 school;
- Meet the income eligibility guidelines for the free and reduced school lunch program; and
- Not be subscribed to a fixed broadband internet service as of July 1, 2020.
Eligible households will receive a letter this week indicating eligibility and identifying a telecommunications company to call to access free internet service through K-12 Connect. To enroll, eligible households must call the telecommunications company noted in their letter to set up service. Providers will install the necessary equipment on a first-come, first-serve basis. Internet service will be provided through June 30, 2021. After that time, the household must return the equipment to the provider or continue services at the household's expense.
If there is no internet availability in the area, the household may be able to access a hot spot through this program. Call 605-773-3248 to inquire. Enrollment closes Nov. 20.
More information, including options for households who may qualify but don’t receive a letter, is at k12connect.sd.gov.