The Bedford Area Educational Foundation is partnering with Bedford County Public Schools to help families access internet service and virtual learning, with the support of SML Good Neighbors, Inc.

The Foundation’s board has committed $15,000 in funding up front to get families online and is launching a campaign to ask individuals and businesses to help with this service.

“So much has been uncertain in this time of COVID-19. But what is certain is that students need access to internet service who do not currently have it and cannot afford to get online,” said Debby Allen, BAEF Board chairwoman.

According to Bedford County Public Schools, at least 25 percent of students have chosen to be 100 percent online for the upcoming school year. The deadline for this virtual option has been extended, so this percentage is expected to grow.

Additionally, for students in grades 7-12 who chose the blended learning model, schoolwork is online and they receive the support of an in-person learning coach two days a week.

While Bedford County has invested in additional Chromebooks, training and resources, leaders have identified a great need for helping families get online. For this, they’ve partnered with the Bedford Area Educational Foundation to raise funds for families, with the support and endorsement of local nonprofit SML Good Neighbors, Inc.

“The willingness of the Foundation to provide this start-up funding for family internet access is a big step toward ensuring that all BCPS students have this invaluable learning resource,” said Dr. Mac Duis, chief operations officer for Bedford County Public Schools.

People are asked to sponsor a family by giving $299. Donors — individuals and businesses — may give part or all of this amount. Donations will be accepted online at bedfordeducation.com/give or may be mailed to BAEF, PO Box 2434, Forest, VA 24551. For online gifts, donors are asked to note internet campaign or Connect to Learning campaign in the notes.

Bedford County Public Schools will administer the program and determine eligibility based on need. The schools will invite eligible families to receive this funding to pay for startup internet fees.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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