As schools across the country announce extended closures, companies ask employees to work remotely, and public spaces close their doors, a number of internet companies are offering WiFi access during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak to families, children, and students in need during this tough time.
Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, and more internet providers signed a pledge on Friday that "emphasized the importance of keeping Americans connected as the country experiences serious disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak." The move came just as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a guidance on Sunday that called for events with more than 50 people to be cancelled for the next eight weeks.
So for the next 60 days, several internet providers have pledged that they won't terminate internet service due to unpaid bills "due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic"; they will waive late fees related to the ongoing health crisis; and will keep WiFi hotspots open.
And if you do not already have an internet subscription at home, Charter and Comcast have said they will offer households free WiFi. "New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service," according to Comcast. Additionally, Charter said it will waive installation fees for new student households.
"As the country works collaboratively to contain this pandemic, broadband internet access will be increasingly essential to ensuring that people across the country are able to learn and work remotely, that businesses can continue to serve customers, and that Americans stay connected and engaged with family and friends," Charter said in a statement on March 13.
As children will be out of school for at least the next few weeks — New York City schools, for instance, are scheduled to re-open on April 20 — internet providers have also addressed specific concerns related to children's education. AT&T, for example, is covering the costs of e-learning tools from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), while Verizon has upped the data allowance for its Innovative Learning schools.
While the need for social distancing is essential to help slow the spread of COVID-19, so is the need for accessible internet. So be sure to pass on this information to any friends or co-workers who might need it right now.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.