Philadelphia expanding offer of free internet to more students

PHILADELPHBIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials are encouraging more families to apply for free internet as the second grading period begins for students.

City officials said they have learned that many families have internet, but it isn't always on a computer and they struggle to afford it.

The goal is to get the word out that free help is available to be sure kids are able to complete school assignments online.

"As a teacher and principal, the thought of students who have not been engaged since March is very troubling to me," said Otis Hackney, Philadelphia's Chief Education Officer.

Hackney said the city is spending the week getting the word out that the PHLConnectED program is still open to help families gain access to the internet for free.

"They could get a wired option or a mobile hotspot," Hackney said.

PHLConnectED started back in August and still works the same way to sign up, but families have to be sure to follow up as well.

"All they would have to do is call 211 and once they call 211, hit option 1 and that would get them started," Hackney said.

The program is available for K-12 students in Philadelphia. So far, the city has helped more than 12,000 families since August, according to Hackney.

Hackney said families who join the program will have access to free internet service through June 2022.

"When students are able to return to school, they'll still have another year of internet access under our agreement. We're looking to add more families in, so families could stay connected," Hackney said.
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