PIERRE, S.D. —The state government will be offering free internet services to K-12 students in their homes for the remainder of the school year.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced the launch of K-12 Connect, a program that will provide internet services at no cost to income eligible households with at least one student currently enrolled in a South Dakota K-12 school, according to a news release Tuesday, Oct. 27.

“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 said 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.”

South Dakota’s total number of positive COVID-19 cases reached 40,730 on Tuesday. The South Dakota Department of Health reported 11,188 active cases Tuesday, a new daily record high. There are now 395 South Dakotans hospitalized with COVID-19, also a new record high.

Households eligible for the K-12 Connect program will receive a letter starting Monday.

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“To enroll, eligible households must call the telecommunications company noted in their letter to set up service. Providers will install the necessary equipment on a first-come, first-serve basis. Internet service will be provided through June 30, 2021,” the release states.

The household is required to return the equipment to the provider or pay the cost to continue services.

Households must meet the following requirements:

  • 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;

  • The household was not subscribed to a fixed broadband internet service as of July 1.

Enrollment closes Nov. 20.

Households that do not qualify for the K-12 Connect program may qualify for the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program.

Lifeline provides eligible subscribers a discount on monthly telephone service, broadband internet service, or bundled packages purchased from participating wireline or wireless providers. Apply by visiting https://nationalverifier.servicenowservices.com/lifeline.

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