Students in classrooms today need more than the usual supplies of pencils, pens, and paper. They need reliable, consistent internet access, too.
Unfortunately, internet service isn’t always an affordable supply item for families, but here in the Toledo region, a local company is working to make sure students have what they need to be successful — and connected — in the classroom and out.
Even if classes aren’t taking place over Zoom calls like they were during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, students, teachers, and educators rely on online resources for schoolwork, communication, and accountability.
“It’s not just about students having access for a Zoom call. It’s about having access to check assignments, find information, and submit assignments. It’s about an open, available link for parents and teachers, and students and teachers, to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively, too” said Christina Harper, Assistant Director of Student Services and Well-Being for Perrysburg Schools.
Perrysburg Schools is one of the many schools in the area that utilize Buckeye Broadband’s School FreeNet program, which gives students and their families free, reliable, ad-based internet service.
“We actually recognized even before the pandemic there was a portion of our community that couldn’t afford, or couldn’t justify, the cost of internet,” said Buckeye Broadband President and General Manager Geoff Shook. “When the pandemic hit, we recognized we needed to launch SchoolNet. So, we took our FreeNet services and suspended the advertisements from 7 am – 4pm.”
School Freenet also offers households enough speed and upload to stream up to three classrooms at a time, and no ads from 7am – 4pm Monday through Friday. The service is available to all school districts in Buckeye Broadband’s service area of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. It’s free for families who qualify.
“This is part of Buckeye’s commitment to ensure every home has access to an education, specifically if attending school in person isn’t a safe option,” said Shook.
“We’ve doubled the number of families using this service since 2018,” Harper said. “And it’s such a smooth process. We identify the families, link them to Buckeye, and they take care of it all.”
How it works
The School FreeNet process is simple. Schools identify families that qualify and handle all the paperwork for those who wish to participate. There is a $50 enrollment fee per household, which is paid by the school.
Once paperwork is completed, Buckeye connects with families to set up the installation of FreeNet services at their address. Enrollment fees are invoiced directly to the school administration at the end of each month.
In today’s digital world, this is a hugely helpful resource, and it’s really making a difference on students’ overall academic performance.
“This year, we were able to get more families set up at the start of the school year, and it’s been amazing to provide this level of wrap-around support for our families,” said Harper.
Buckeye’s FreeNet is a patented, ad-supported internet service available to anyone in the Buckeye service area. FreeNet gives you access to your favorite online activities, like email, social media and surfing the web.
Not just for students – Affordable Connectivity Program
Buckeye Broadband is not only concerned about connecting families and children in school to internet with School FreeNet but is also a participant in the Affordable Connectivity Program which is a Federal Communications Commission program that provides a subsidy on monthly broadband internet bills for all qualifying households.
For more information on School FreeNet or the ACP program, visit buckeyebroadband.com.
At a Glance: FreeNet Service
Affordable Connectivity Program
- Basic speeds, allowing one stream/ Unlimited Data
- Users watch an advertisement to start their session
- Every 30 minutes users watch another ad to activate another 30-minute session
- User must sign in 1x every 30 days
No cost each month