Spectrum recently announced that homes with students could be eligible for free broadband and WiFi for 60 days.

It’s part of the company’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic that has Michigan’s schools closed.

In an email to customers, Spectrum said they were following CDC recommendations to prevent spread of the disease but were also taking some steps to “ease the strain.‘

Spectrum broadband and WiFi for new K-12 and college student households “that our network currently passes‘ will be free to access for the next 60 days, the company recently said in an email to customers.

The company will be partnering with school districts “to make sure local communities are aware of these tools to help students learn remotely.‘

Additionally, Spectrum will be opening WiFi hotspots “across their footprint for public use.‘

Superintendents of local school districts say that’s great — but many families won’t be able to take advantage of the program.

Manton Superintendent Len Morrow said it’s a transportation issue. Though the school district is offering meals to families during the school closure, they sometimes can’t actually get to the pick-up location.

And they similarly will struggle to get close enough to the WiFi to work, Morrow said, drawing a parallel to the school’s ability to free up the school building’s WiFi, which might extend into the school’s parking lot — if people can get there.

“We’re not geared up in that way,‘ Morrow said.

In Northern Michigan, some homes are too rural to access broadband or WiFi at all.

There will still be areas where students live without access to Internet.

“This will help many families during this difficult time. We are appreciative to Spectrum for thinking about our families with limited connectivity,‘ said Cadillac Area Public Schools Superintendent Jen Brown. “There will still be areas where our students live without access to Internet.‘

Steve Prissel, superintendent of McBain Rural Agricultural School, agreed.

Spectrum’s program “ would support more of our families to access educational resources. If we do need to go more online in the future it will absolutely help,‘ Prissel said. But if not everybody can get online, “it makes it difficult for us to provide necessary resources for all.‘

Spectrum is still offering “Spectrum Internet Assist, their program that provides high-speed broadband to low-income households.

Spectrum says their network is built to handle peak usage and should be able to cope with extra daytime traffic.

The free broadband began on Monday, March 16, according to an email sent to customers.

kusher@cadillacnews.com | 775-NEWS (6397)

Cadillac News