Myrtle Beach homeless students without reliable internet access ahead of first day of school

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – From Pre-K to 12th grade, 21 kids at New Directions Family Shelter are at risk of not starting school on Tuesday.

Students have already been provided laptops through McKinney-Vento, a homeless assistance program, but without stable Wi-Fi the devices won’t be of any use on the first day of school.

“Our major concern is making sure that our kids do have the internet access available to them to be able to all be on the internet at the same time,” said Kathy Jenkins, director of New Directions.

Officials say, HTC is working to provide internet to students in need. However, to qualify for assistance, students must live in a household without internet access. The shelter has internet connection, but the broadband can’t hold 21 devices.

“There’s so many people here and like everybody is bringing their devices home and have to log on to them to get them activated it’s kind of really bogged down at the moment,” said Brittney Wade, local mother at the shelter.

Wade who lost her home during the pandemic is remaining positive for her two children this school year.

“There are so many families, you know we’re all kind of one big family,” Wade explained. “If one student has a problem and doesn’t know how to use something, I know it will be like 20 other students that will be like ‘Hey! I did this yesterday’. They can be right there. You know, I think all together we’re going to have a pretty good school year.”

Jenkins has considered buying the hot spots for the shelter which she said, would add up to about $1,000. However, the shelter doesn’t have additional funding for hot spots at this time.

Jenkins said she’s continuing to work with Horry County School District in hopes to provide a way for students at the shelter to start school on Tuesday.

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