The coronavirus has forced millions of kids to learn from home virtually. However, not all of them have internet.
Teachers and administration saw the dilemma and immediately contacted their elected officials informing them of the problem. The issue was that many students were having difficulty getting connected to Wi-Fi because Optimum had a requirement that all outstanding obligations be paid before free Wi-Fi could be delivered.
So, a few politicians decided to step in. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Senator Jamaal Bailey and Councilman Andrew Cohen, sent a letter on March 27 to Altice USA asking it to remove their requirement that all outstanding balances be paid before families can receive free Wi-Fi.
Altice promptly heeded their request and have lifted this requirement and are working with schools to ensure all students are able to connect to the internet during the virus-related closures.
“The education of a student should not be contingent on whether their parents have unpaid bills or not,” the elected officials said in a joint statement. “School teachers and administrators are working incredibly hard to ensure that all students are able to access remote learning curricula from their homes, but all that work is for naught if their students can’t access the internet from home.”
Optimum is offering Altice Advantage Internet free for 60 days, where available, to any household in its service area that has a student in kindergarten through 12th grade and/or college. This special Optimum service is for students who are displaced due to school closures and who don’t have Internet access at home.
After 60 days, those affected can either cancel the service or keep it for a low rate of $14.99 per month, with no annual contract and free equipment.
The elected’s said the refusal to connect students to Wi-Fi conflicted with the Keep Americans Connected Pledge that the company signed onto in conjunction with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
“No student should be denied the opportunity to participate in remote learning simply because their parents are behind on bills,” the elected officials said in their letter. “Our public school system is desperately trying to adapt in-classroom curricula to remote learning models, with teachers and school administration putting extensive effort into making sure that all students are connected with their academic materials. This is an unprecedented crisis, and it is imperative that all of us – public sector and private sector both working together – take unprecedented action to ensure that our children can continue to receive the education that they need.”