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Local school system joins efforts to help bring better internet accessibility

Carter County Schools have joined efforts to help bring better internet accessibility to the area.
With COVID-19 appearing to be on the rise, schools, work and even medical care are more in need of access to the internet than ever. In rural areas, the problem with accessibility is prevalent.
The decision to join efforts came after Comissioners Robert Acuff and Mike Hill spoke during a principal’s meeting on Friday, Oct. 23, and presented a survey that they would like schools to distribute to students.
“I’m excited,” said Tracy McAbee, director of schools. “These gentlemen have already put in a tremendous amount of work. I’m very grateful and thankful they’ve reached out to us and that we could help partner somehow.”
Principals from Carter County Schools will be posting the survey to their respective pages and sending home hard copies with students for parents and guardians to fill out and return.
These surveys consist of simple questions that can be used to help project and demonstrate where there is a need in the area. This information benefits the Health and Welfare Committee, which is spearheading the quest for broadband connectivity.  A survey was previously conducted and had around 300 responses, however it was online.
According to Acuff, now more than ever, broadband is essential to help children. He noted with the pandemic potentially causing schools to have periods of closures again, having access to school work and assignments will be essential.
Another benefit to schools has been the committee reaching out to ETSU regarding the topic of telemedicine.
As work continues, the committee has had several ZOOM calls with various groups and individuals in efforts to apply for and receive grant funding. County governments and municipalities cannot apply for grants, however partnerships with companies and groups can. Thus, the work and search for one has been a goal for this committee.
While certain groups are showing promise of being potential partners for the committee, work is ongoing and more decisions and information will be provided at the next committee meeting. This can be viewed online at  www.cartercountytn.gov.
While there is no deadline for the survey, the sooner the better.
“You can help your kids, and kids of this county, by making sure people fill this survey out and get it back to the appropriate principals,” said Acuff.