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Ector County ISD looking to expand internet access for students

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 3:31 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Ector County ISD is working to close the digital divide for its students through broadband internet access outside of the classroom.

A survey by the district showed that one in 10 students don’t have reliable internet access at home. That problem became apparent as students learned from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now community leaders, local businesses, and hospitals are teaming up with the district to create a Conn-Ector Task Force.

The task force’s goal is to create infrastructure to improve internet access for students. The district says this work would benefit its students as well as residents of Odessa and West Odessa.

“We have families that live in our community that don’t have access to broadband or if they do have access so expensive and it’s so expensive that they can’t afford it or it’s such low quality it doesn’t make any sense to pay for it,” said Dr. Scott Muri, the superintendent of ECISD.

Dr. Muri says the project is estimated to cost between $12-35 million.

With that in mind, the Task Force requested funds from both the city and county. They hope to eventually get assistance from the state.

“Our state legislator is deciding right now what to do with the latest trench of federal dollars that they have. One of those options is to invest in broadband infrastructure. Right now the federal government is also looking at potentially some new investments in infant structure, one of those being high-speed broadband across the country,” Dr. Muri said.

Dr. Muri says that the infrastructure and improved broadband service will benefit education, telehealth services and provide digital inclusion for underserved neighborhoods for years to come.

“Those reasons and a variety of others, it’s important to our community. Our opportunity right now is really to seize the moment.”

The multi-year project will involve running almost 800 miles of fiber optic cables throughout the county.

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