Here's How to Access Free WiFi and Study Resources for Students
Internet companies will help America stay connected with up to two months of free WiFi.
For many students, spring break won't end with a return to the classroom since many schools have made the hard decision to close over concerns of the new coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). The choices moving forward? Either homeschool or virtual classrooms. But for some families, the cost of WiFi prevents reliable internet service at home.
On March 13, as part of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) response to COVID-19, the FCC created the "Keep Americans Connected Pledge." Phone carriers and internet companies taking the pledge will not end service for customers unable to pay, will waive late fees, and will open WiFi hotspots to all. Online education platforms are also offering free or discounted educational resources to help us get through these obstacles with as little stress as possible.
Internet Service Changes
According to a March 12 press release, Comcast is offering low-income households 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to qualified customers for $9.95 per month. After signing-up via the website (there's no credit check or contract involved), you'll get your home starter kit delivered free of charge. Existing users will have unlimited data without any overage fees for the next 60 days. If you live within range, you're also welcome to hop on to one of the company's 18 million Xfinity WiFi hotspots. Just pull up your phone's WiFi connections and connect.
As of March 16, Charter Communications - Spectrum is offering entirely free WiFi to households with K-12 and/or college students. Eligible applicants can enroll by calling 1-844-488-8395. Hotspots are also available around the country for free. To maintain social distancing, use these hotspots only if your home is within range of one; don't seek public spaces.
AT&T has opened its WiFi hotspots to anyone needing to connect (you don't need to be a customer).
Mobile Data Usage Limits
National mobile providers who’ve signed the "Keep Americans Connected Pledge" are waiving fees for exceeding data limits in your contract. While mobile service companies such as Verizon haven't reported any huge differences in data usage yet, you can rest easy knowing you won't be fined for going over usage limits. In addition to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint (effective March 19) are all waiving late fees and offering unlimited data for the next 60 days.
Free Educational Services
As reported by TODAY, the Facebook group Amazing Educational Resources (a global group of educators and parents that share resources for any grade level) keeps a running spreadsheet online of sites and programs for every subject to support students at home. Here are a few sites you can tap into today for no charge.
The private online tutoring company (that normally costs up to $95 per hour) launched a Virtual School Day, a resource that provides free live and interactive online instruction for 30 hours per week. The assessment tools will allow parents to build grade-appropriate learning plans as well as access practice problems, quizzes, and flashcards.
The educational publishing company offers free online resources in the form of e-books, videos, and activity sheets. For a more structured form of remote learning, you can take part in the free 20-day lesson plan featuring a different subject each day (such as history or science) for students in Pre-K through 9th grade.
Created for students with a visual or audible impairment, the educational service app's tools are available for free for 45 days. Students can utilize an audible typing tutor, flashcards, and educational games that are all visually and audibly accessible.
Teach your first grader why baby animals are cute or your second grader why there's sand at the beach with Mystery Science's video lessons. The K-5 educator website pulled their best lessons for remote learning for free. There's no log-in or account required, but you can sign up for a free account to access free mini-lessons and more videos.