Public library seeking to improve internet access in Jones County

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JONES COUNTY, Mississippi (WDAM) – Residents of Jones County may soon have better internet access.

As students and teachers return to class, cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing in Mississippi.

According to Jones County Schools Superintendent Tommy Parker, no virtual learning is planned at this time. However, if that were to happen, Parker says some Jones County students will not be able to use their school-provided electronics.

“We’ve provided everyone with a device they can use, but we just don’t have internet access in all areas of our county,” Parker said. “And so, if we were to go virtual, we would have a number of students who just wouldn’t be able to receive instructions.”

We are told that Jones County is on the cusp of fiber Internet access, but not for a few years.

“We need to fill this gap until then,” said Michelle Jones-Anderson, Ellisville branch manager, Laurel-Jones County Public Library System.

This is why the Laurel-Jones County Library System is asking for a federal grant.

The FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund is a grant of more than $ 7 billion to help libraries and schools provide better internet access during the COVID-19 emergency.

“What we have asked for is 50 Cradlepoint access points, and they will go to all community centers in the county… they will have a range of 1 mile, which is what we hope, for all units at the Laurel Housing Authority, then we have a few extras to cover the outlying places that we could put in churches and different places, ”Anderson-Jones said.

Additionally, some of the money will be used to purchase devices for community use if the library is approved for the grant.

“We will bring these Surface Books into the community, to the community centers where the access points are, and we will give lessons on resume writing and different things like that just to help them develop their skills and give them the confidence they need to be able to go out and get this job, ”said Anderson-Jones.

Officials say the library is hoping the request will be submitted by Wednesday evening and that they expect to know if they are approved soon after.

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