S.C. schools face broadband issues as school reopening nears

VIDEO: S.C. schools face broadband issues as school reopening nears

EFFINGHAM, S.C. (WCSC/WBTW/CBS News) - As parents prepare for the reality of school starting soon, those in rural areas don't have many options other than to send their children to school.

Earlier this week, Gov. Henry McMaster said he would require school districts statewide to submit fall plans that gave parents the option to allow their children to attend school through virtual learning or in-person.

But a huge issue in rural areas is the lack of connectivity for students and teachers to even conduct virtual learning.

"We got a ways to go, but the Federal Government is stepping up to help as well," S.C. Seventh District Congressman Tom Rice said.

Mor ethan 180,000 South Carolinians have no internet access. South Carolina lawmakers already vowed to spend $50 million to improve broadband in the state.

Rice says he agrees with McMaster's process of giving parents the options to send their children to school or do it virtually.

"There's risks both ways. I mean you can send your kid to school and maybe there's some risk they can contract it even though they're not likely to at their age, but there's also a risk at keeping them at home," he said. "There's emotional risk, there's risk of getting left behind in terms of academics and you can catch it at home, too. So there's no way that you're going to do this that is absolutely foolproof."

State Rep. Robert Williams expressed the urgent need for broadband for virtual learning to take place.

"Learning is very paramount to any child. A child not only learns by doing something their selves it's more prevalent when there's a teacher standing before them," Williams said. "However, if you can find someone who can maximize those technologies and instruct kids from a distance or wherever they may be, we just haven't moved as quickly as we should have."

Williams says there is a bill sitting at the state Senate awaiting approval for more assistance with the broadband issue.

Meanwhile, state school districts are preparing their plans to figure out how to make both virtual and in-person learning viable options for their students.

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