COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Congresswoman Cindy Axne held a roundtable discussion with school and tech industry representatives to talk about the importance of internet access. Axne said internet is important for many facets including education, business and health, especially now because of the pandemic.
Dr. Vickie Murillo, Superintendent of Council Bluffs Community School District, said internet connectivity is as important today as water and electricity.
“As you can see the internet access is as important to the family member now as far as the learning realm and engaging in telework, as electricity, water heat. It’s just part of our lives,” Murillo said.
Murillo said without accessible internet, students are in danger of falling behind in their education. Now that they are in a hybrid model of learning, with most students dividing the week into remote online and in-person, students need internet in order to be engaged in their lessons.
"That is so critical to our students, being able to learn and to ensure we don’t have what some people are now terming the COVID slide, and ensuring that no child is left behind. Because we’re in the pandemic and don’t have access, that’s why everyone must see the importance of connectivity," Murillo said.
Most students in the Council Bluffs Community District do have access to the free community Wi-Fi, Blink. Only about 5% of students are not able to use it, because it has yet to reach the areas in which they live.
Those in attendance at the discussion said it's not just crucial to have access, but quality of speed, reliability and affordability are all important.
Axne said she will take all the information they discussed at the meeting and take it back to Washington, D.C. and work with the FCC.
"I'm going to work with the FCC and change a rule around e-rates, which is limiting us from being able to use particular funding to expand connectivity during this time. Times have changed and so that means some of the rules we have in place with government have to change along with it," Axne said.