YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – A multi-million dollar project is underway in York County to improve internet access in rural areas. This will have major implications for tons of people who live and work in the county and for a local school district.
Southeast School District Superintendent Nathan Van Deusen says internet access is a real problem for his district. âWe have parts of our community that we just don’t have internet access to,â Van Deusen said.
When the pandemic hit, they couldn’t fully rely on online courses like other districts could.
“It really opened our eyes,” said Van Deusen. “Because our families couldn’t make it to the Google classroom, they couldn’t go online.”
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They bought over a hundred wifi hotspots to connect families to the internet, but it came at a cost and still hasn’t given the students a strong, reliable connection.
âA band-aid for the problem. It was not a solution for a bigger long term problem that we realized, âsaid Van Deusen.
York County is investing up to $ 25 million in CARES Act funding to build fiber optic rings in areas that need better internet. Vice-President Commissioner Doug Hoke believes this will have far-reaching impacts.
âI think this is a great project and I think it will benefit not only the business community, the educators, the farming community, but all business people,â Hoke said.
The commissioners discussed the project in their town hall on Wednesday evening. President-Commissioner Julie Wheeler said they estimate the project will be complete by 2024.
âHaving broadband access is really important these days,â Wheeler said. âGone are the days of just browsing the web when you look at telehealth and distance learning and all those types of things. We really have to make sure that we have not only accessibility, but affordability as well. “
It has great potential for families in the South East.
“There would be no dead spots mainly in our district,” Van Deusen said.
He says it will help address equity issues and give students access to more educational resources.
âThis project is helping to meet a need of our families,â said Van Deusen. “This internet access is fundamentally a fundamental aspect, I think, as we move forward where we need to go.”
At city hall on Wednesday night, commissioners addressed several other topics, including staffing the 911 center, changes for the upcoming election and water quality monitoring. You can watch the full meeting here.