facebook linkedin twitter

Comcast Gives Pennsylvania School Surprise Virtual Learning Boost

September 21, 2020 by Dan McCue

Comcast gave students and teachers in a Pennsylvania school district a big surprise last week — free Dell Laptops and a year of internet access to support virtual learning and help them overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

The city of McKeesport, Pa., was recently ranked the fourth most dangerous city in the United States by the National Council of Home Safety and Security, which assessed 100 cities across the nation in terms of the rate of violent crime per 1,000 people.

That’s why when the coronavirus pandemic struck, educators in this community outside of Pittsburgh were particularly concerned. Not only would there be no school for vulnerable young people to go to, but there was little in the way of resources to ensure their education would continue.

Roughly 65% of students in McKeesport live below the poverty line, and for many, virtual learning was simply not possible. There weren’t enough devices and not nearly enough internet connections.

On top of that, almost half of the students at McKeesport Area High School were working as essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

Comcast’s gift was announced on NBC’s “Today Show” on students’ first day back in class since March.

“Finally the kids get a break and get what they deserve,” said Superintendent Mark Holtzman as Today’s Craig Melvin revealed the gift, surrounded by students and teachers, on the high school football field.

“These students and teachers want to change your mind about their hometown. We believe people think about us the wrong way,” Holtzman said of the National Council of Home Safety and Security study.

“We’re a very supportive city and people just have to come see for themselves,” he said.

“What makes McKeesport so special is the fact our kids are so accepting of one another,” Holtzman continued. “People think of the city as being one of the rougher cities in the nation, one with less advantages than others, but honestly, we’re a together city. And that idea of being in this together is even incorporated into our school motto.”

Holtzman was the only person in the school district who knew about Comcast’s gift beforehand, but even he was surprised when Melvin informed him and everybody else at the gathering that students and teachers at the adjacent Middle School were going to get the same gift.

Clearly moved, Holtzman recalled that the onset of the pandemic had been “a nightmare.”

“We basically had to close our schools, lose contact with our students. The resources that we were providing them, we were struggling to provide them,” he said.

Holtzman said all during that time, he wished the district could have given the students the education they deserved, but he and his teachers continued to let the students know they cared about them.

“They count on us,” he told Melvin.

Comcast bestowed its gift on the McKeesport students and teachers through its Internet Essentials program, which, since 2011, has helped connect more than 8 million low-income people to the Internet at home.

Comcast announced last week that it is initiating a complementary, multiyear program to launch more than 1,000 WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” in community centers nationwide.

Working with its network of thousands of non-profit partners and city leaders, Comcast will provide WiFi in to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their schoolwork.

The initiative will provide not only free Internet connectivity, but also access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning.

“For nearly a decade, Internet Essentials has helped to change the lives of millions of people by providing low-income families with Internet access at home,” said Dave Watson, president and chief executive officer of Comcast Cable.

“These Lift Zones, which will be installed in community centers in local neighborhoods that our partners have identified … will be places where students and families can get online and access the resources they need, especially while so many schools and workplaces have gone virtual,” he said.

Education

Nursing Schools See Applications Rise, Despite COVID Burnout

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications... Read More

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications to nursing schools are rising, driven by what educators say are young people who see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge. Among them... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Reece Nations
Native American Equity Initiative Planned to Strengthen Tribal Education

WASHINGTON — The White House will institute a new federal policy initiative to help advance educational equity and economic opportunity... Read More

WASHINGTON — The White House will institute a new federal policy initiative to help advance educational equity and economic opportunity for Native Americans by vitalizing tribal colleges and universities. The executive order, signed by President Joe Biden on Monday, designates the secretary of the Department of... Read More

COVID Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect for NYC Teachers, Staff

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City teachers and other school staff members were all supposed to be vaccinated against... Read More

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City teachers and other school staff members were all supposed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the bell rang Monday morning in one of the first school district mandates in the country requiring employees to be inoculated against the coronavirus.... Read More

October 1, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Ed Dept. Officials Tell Congress Students Are Protected for In-Class Education

WASHINGTON -- Biden administration officials tried to assure a Senate panel Thursday that the nation’s schools are following the right... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Biden administration officials tried to assure a Senate panel Thursday that the nation’s schools are following the right strategy to remain open while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19. The new school year is barely a month old but controversies still rage in lawsuits... Read More

Biden Plan Seeks to Expand Education, From Pre-K to college

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Democrats push ahead with President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan, they're promising historic investments across... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Democrats push ahead with President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan, they're promising historic investments across the arc of an education — from early childhood to college and beyond — in what advocates describe as the most comprehensive package of its kind... Read More

September 24, 2021
by Victoria Turner
FCC Allocates Over $1.2 Billion to Close the Homework Gap

The Federal Communications Commission is allocating over $1.2 billion in the first round of funding of the $7.17 billion Emergency... Read More

The Federal Communications Commission is allocating over $1.2 billion in the first round of funding of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program with the aim of connecting more than 3.6 million students across the U.S., according to a release today.  Seeking to close the homework... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top