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Valley Grove School District and Broadband Connectivity

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend Valley Grove School District of Venango County, Pennsylvania, for truly going above and beyond to connect with their students during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Due to coronavirus, we saw school doors close across the country. Many parents found themselves in unexpected homeschooling situations, and the teachers of Valley Grove School District rose to the occasion.

In an effort to connect with students during the quarantine, teachers and administrators created VGTV, a YouTube channel to share video lessons and updates with children and families.

Videos can range from a music class piano lesson to a banana bread tutorial from home economics or the early childhood education teachers reading storybooks.

Teachers from all grades have gotten involved to contribute something to VGTV. J.G. Resig, a high school teacher, said the project ``started out just as a morale boost to stay in contact with our students and let them know that we still care about them, even though we are stuck at home.''

Third grade teacher Julie Plumer has used her everyday surroundings to create informative videos for her students. For example, Ms. Plumer has created a variety of videos about baby chickens she had been raising to teach students about what it takes to raise and to care for animals.

Content varies, but the thing that each of these videos has in common are the dedicated educators behind the camera.

None of this work would be possible, however, without reliable broadband connectivity. As coronavirus has transitioned most classrooms to distance learning, the importance of broadband infrastructure has never been more apparent.

Connectivity is something that many of us take for granted. While there is broadband available in many areas of the United States, more than 21 million Americans, including more than 800,000 Pennsylvanians, lack access. It is imperative that we do what we can to address this critical digital divide.

The CARES Act provided $100 million for the ReConnect Pilot Program, which provides grants for the costs of broadband infrastructure development and improvement in rural areas. The CARES Act also provided $25 million for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband program.

These funds will certainly have an impact on distance learning in the age of coronavirus, but broadband connectivity is crucial regardless. We need to continue to make rural broadband and reliable broadband infrastructure a priority long after coronavirus is a thing of the past.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the dedicated educators of Valley Grove School District for going the extra mile to support their students during these extraordinary times.

They are hometown heroes.

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