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As Montana Schools Close Their Doors Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, Tester Calls on FCC to Ensure Kids Have Internet Access

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Senator: “The FCC must take action to expand internet availability and keep Americans informed”

 

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – As schools across Montana shutter their doors in response to the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to ensure that all K-12 students have access to the internet so they can keep up with their education.

Tester—a working farmer and former school teacher who lives in a remote area with spotty service—has been a relentless advocate for keeping Montanans connected by improving rural broadband, particularly to ensure that kids in rural and frontier places have the same access to internet as those in urban areas.

“Without swift action from the FCC, students from households without access to high-speed internet face challenges in learning from home while their schools are closed,” wrote Tester in a letter with his colleagues. “…[I] urge the FCC to use its existing authority and resources to ensure that all students can access online instruction at home to continue learning and keep Americans informed during this public health crisis.”

Schools across the country—including Montana—have closed due to the current public health crisis and are now relying on online instruction to teach students, yet, nearly 12 million students don’t have access to internet in their homes. Tester is demanding that the FCC do everything in their power to ensure that all kids can access education through the internet.

Tester is also requesting that the FCC create a consumer-friendly web portal—searchable by region—with the latest information about how consumers can get and stay connected, and he is asking that they work with media outlets to distribute this information to those who are not already online. This would include contacts for telecommunications providers, links to maps of publicly available WiFi hotspots, and information about federal and corporate assistance to those without broadband internet.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, after 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak.

Full text of Tester’s letter can be found HERE.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresouces for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak

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