PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Remote learning has been hard on everyone during the pandemic. Low-income families are no different, but some face the added challenge of not having reliable internet access for their children.
The Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, has partnered with Cox Communications to provide temporarily increased internet speeds to low-income families to aid in remote learning.
The new statewide tracker uses self-reported data reported to the department by Arizona's 15 county superintendents, although the site indicates Maricopa County districts were taken from other public sources.
Cox's existing Connect2Compete plan is a low-cost internet plan for low-income families who don't have reliable or affordable internet at home. This package is offered to students and families receiving government assistance such as reduced or free school lunch, SNAP benefits, or public housing.
Starting Friday, Dec. 11, Cox Communications will double the speed for this plan to 50mbps/download for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year in all their markets. The increased internet speed will help children in these families complete schoolwork, communicate with teachers and have the same access to information as their classmates.
"During the current COVID-19 spike, many students and teachers are returning to distance learning, once again needing to rely on their at-home internet service provider," Hoffman said. "I am thankful that Cox Communications promptly responded to my request to provide low-income students and families with higher internet speeds."
Hoffman has voiced her concerns about this issue with remote learning when she and the Arizona Department of Health Services rolled out their "Healthy Kids, Open Schools" campaign. While closing schools and moving to strictly distance learning may help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, it is not an option for every student in Arizona.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman voiced her concerns about suicide among school-age children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Online learning is not possible in some of our communities, especially in our tribal communities where access to internet is not available, for example in the Navajo Nation only about 25% of students have internet access," Hoffman said.
When the pandemic hit, Cox Communications offered two months of free service for new families signing up with their Connect2Compete plan.
"Cox remains committed to ensuring that all kids in our service areas have access to broadband connectivity so that they can do homework, communicate with their teachers and have the same opportunities to access information as their classmates," said John Wolfe, Southwest Regional General Manager at Cox Communications.
Families can qualify for the Connect2Compete plan from their mobile device or desktop by visiting cox.com/c2c. Eligible participants signing up before Dec. 31, 2020 will receive two months of free service and pay $9.95 monthly going forward.