Sierra Tel offering free internet to students amid COVID-19 crisis

One Valley company is stepping up to make sure students with Yosemite Unified School District can keep up with their studies online.

When concern over the coronavirus forced the Yosemite Unified School District to close its classrooms, it was unclear how students would keep up with their studies.

"Our families at first wanted paper packets, but that becomes problematic because then you have all of the contact of passing all of that out," said Superintendent Glen Billington.

Yosemite Unified serves over 1,400 students and many families in the district do not have the internet.

"Having internet wasn't their main needs, they're more concerned with paying bills and having groceries on the table," explained Coarsegold Elementary School teacher Linda Gresham. "Internet just wasn't important."

That's when Sierra Telephone stepped in.

"Schools and education has been one of the main threads of Sierra Tel always," said Laura Norman with Sierra Tel. "Cell phones don't work particularly well in the mountains, so we go by landline."

They're offering free internet to families that don't have it and have a student enrolled in a public school in the area.

RELATED: Comcast, AT&T, Sprint offering free or low-cost internet for students amid COVID-19 crisis

They've already installed the internet for dozens of families.

"It took a huge weight off of our shoulders and made the shift to online learning possible," said Billington. "It provides a connection kids really miss. Our teachers miss their students."

To qualify you must:

  • Be located within Sierra Tel's service territory
  • Live in a structure that is equipped with Sierra Tel's local exchange facilities
  • Have at least one household member that is enrolled at a school in the Yosemite Unified, Bass Lake, Raymond-Knowles or Mariposa School Districts
  • Meet the low-income eligibility requirements
  • Be a new customer that does not currently have internet service from Sierra Tel Internet

  • You can call (559) 683-4611 to enroll.

    They're not the only internet provider stepping up. Comcast, AT&T and Sprint are offering free or low cost internet for students amid the COVID-19 crisis, but there are certain requirements.
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