PHLConnectEd

Hotline Will Tell Philly Students How to Sign Up for Free Internet in Pandemic

United Way's 211 hotline can provide information on the PHLConnectED program

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Thousands of Philly students and families need a reliable internet connection as the coronavirus pandemic has led many schools to all-virtual learning this fall.

Now there's another way to learn about getting connected: calling 211. The hotline now has information about getting in-home internet access with the city's PHLConnectED program, a news release says.

The 211 hotline from United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is available in more than 150 languages. It also has information about several other resources available like food and nutrition programs and reentry help for ex-offenders.

If seeking help with getting a broadband connection, families can call 211 and press 1 to speak to a resource navigator. They will receive general information about the PHLConnectED program, like their eligibility and how to sign up.

PHLConnectED, announced earlier this month, is a program to connect about 35,000 K-12 households in the city to the internet so students can take virtual classes. The city says the program will help students learn while staying safe in the pandemic.

The district distributed Chromebooks in the spring to students who needed a device for virtual learning.

Comcast, the city and several foundations are supporting the effort to connect households with children in Philly's public, charter and Independence Mission Catholic schools. The initial focus will be on households with K-12 students and no internet access or only mobile phone access, or on people who are homeless and housing insecure.

The school district and charter schools began reaching out to the first round of eligible families Monday. The School District of Philadelphia starts virtual classes Sept. 2.

Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, including NBC10 and Telemundo62.

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