South Dakota K-12 students can now get free internet for rest of school year

South Dakota's now offering a new internet initiative for K-12 students in their homes for the remainder of this schools year

South Dakota's now offering a new internet initiative for K-12 students in their homes for the remainder of this schools year, according to a press release from Gov. Kristi Noem's office. 

Noem's office announced K-12 Connect on Tuesday, stating the program will provide internet to eligible K-12 students at no cost. 

“Given the unprecedented disruption for many of our K-12 students, we want to make sure there isn’t a gap in learning this year,” Noem stated in the release. “So many South Dakotans are stepping up to help, and I want to thank the South Dakota telecommunications companies that are teaming up with us to make this access possible.”

Families who are eligible will receive a letter this week identifying a telecommunications company to call for free access through the program, the release states. 

To enroll, households must call the company noted in their letters to set up the service, the release states. 

Households must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have at least one student currently enrolled in an accredited South Dakota K-12 school;
  • Must meet the income eligibility guidelines for the free and reduced school lunch program; and
  • The household was not subscribed to a fixed broadband internet service as of July 1, 2020.

Providers will then install necessary equipment on a first-come, first-serve basis and internet will be provided through June 30, 2021, the release states. After that, families must either return their equipment to the provider or pay for services at their own expense, the release states.

Enrollment closes Nov. 20. Companies who are participating in K-12 Connect include:

  • Alliance Communications Cooperative
  • Beresford Municipal Telephone Company
  • Faith Municipal Telephone Company
  • Fort Randall Telephone Company
  • Golden West Telecommunications
  • Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative
  • Kennebec Telephone Company
  • Long Lines Broadband
  • Midco
  • Midstate Communications
  • RC Technologies
  • Santel Communications Cooperative
  • Swiftel Communications/Brookings Municipal Telephone
  • TrioTel Communications
  • Valley Telecommunications Cooperative
  • Vast
  • Venture Communications Cooperative
  • West River Cooperative Telephone Company
  • West River Telecommunications Cooperative

The program is a partnership with the Governor's office, the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, the state education department and participating telecommunications companies. Funding for the program is from the CARES Act, according to the release.

More information can be found at k12connect.sd.gov.