Parents react to extension of Alabama internet voucher program

Parents react to extension of Alabama internet voucher program

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students program providing free internet for some students has been extended into 2021 after President Trump signed the latest COVID-19 relief package.

About 200,000 students rely on the internet program during a time when many students are doing virtual schooling.

Monica Roney received an internet voucher through the program that helped her high school daughter submit school work at home. Roney said she was worried about the virus.

“It gives me a sense of security that my child doesn’t have to leave the house because it’s new, and you don’t know how it’s going to affect one person or the other,” she said.

Roney was shocked when she heard the voucher program would be extended into next year.

“I was like, wow. Because I was trying to figure out how I was going to make that stay in my budget,” Roney said. “It really is a godsend.”

Alayla Barnes is a single mother of four children in Montgomery.

“But I think that it’s a good thing,” she explained. “I just think that they need to, you know, try to fix some of the issues that a lot of people might be dealing with, like myself.”

Barnes did not pay for the internet at her house before the pandemic, so she was glad to receive an internet voucher in the mail.

“I’m just one of those parents that I just don’t feel my kids need to go back to school right now,” she said.

However, Barnes said the voucher was not enough to support all four of her children through Charter.

For two months, Barnes tried to work with the internet company to fix the technical problems. She now pays $20 more each month on top of the voucher so they can finish their schooling each day.

Originally the program was set to expire Dec. 31st, but now it has been extended through the Spring semester of 2021.

“But the fact that they were offering it, I thought that it was pretty good,” Barnes said. “So you know, I was really waiting on those vouchers to come through, but I just wasn’t expecting that it was going to be the type of problems.”

The extension will only support current people in the program. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs manages the ABC for Students program for the state and is working with its partner CTC Technology & Energy.

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