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How schools are helping provide virtual learning in internet dead zones

Most of the households in the town of Nanjemoy, Maryland, have no internet access, making distance learning a difficult reality.

WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced schools that reopen safely to in-person learning will receive “incentives” saying the state has an additional $345 Million in educational funds. So, will counties with spotty internet access take the Governor up on his offer? The answer is "no" in Charles County.

Katherine O’Malley Simpson, communication director for Charles County Public Schools, said the county will stick to virtual learning with a slow phased-in approach to in-person instruction starting with special education students, those who are homeless, and those with poor internet access.

One community in Charles County with poor internet access is Nanjemoy.

The small rural community is about a 40-minute drive from Waldorf, with a population of just under 3,300, according to Censusreport.org.

Vincent Scott reached out to WUSA9 saying most of the town has no internet access. In fact, his service is so bad he couldn’t do a phone or FaceTime interview.

Credit: Lauren Brill
Lauren's soon-to-be first grade daughter finished kindergarten online.

WUSA9 contacted Verizon, Comcast, and RCN to find out how internet providers are helping. All three have launched programs offering discount services to help bridge the digital divide.

Sanford Ames, Senior VP of the DC Metro area for RCN said their small network does not extend that far. Comcast said while there are some low-density areas where “it’s not economical to build out,” they are “partnering with municipalities to apply for available grants.”

A Verizon spokesperson said they do not provide internet access to Scott’s address. Fios is only available, the spokesperson said, to some Nanjemoy homes through a connection in La Plata.

Charles County Public Schools are setting up internet zones for students: socially distanced inside Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head or free Wi-Fi outdoors at 7 different middle and elementary schools:

  • Gale-Bailey Elementary School
  • T.C. Martin Elementary School
  • Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School
  • Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School
  • Matthew Henson Middle School
  • Piccowaxen Middle School
  • Milton M. Somers Middle School

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