COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Tuesday he will spend $6 million in discretionary COVID-19 relief funds on free community computer labs near broadband deserts statewide.
Schoolchildren, teachers and others in need of computer access will soon be able to use Apple computers at eight sites across the state, McMaster announced in a news conference at Benedict College, a historically Black liberal arts school in the state’s capital city.
“The pandemic has made it abundantly clear that internet access is not a luxury but a necessity for millions of South Carolinians,” McMaster said in a statement. “The strategic placement of these labs will bolster South Carolina’s premier workforce training efforts by giving our communities and people access to resources they need to expand participation in our state’s growing economy.”
The announcement comes as officials push to expand broadband access across the state. Hundreds of thousands of people in the state’s rural areas have struggled to get online, a problem underscored after the coronavirus pandemic pushed many functions of life onto the internet.
The eight computer labs will be strategically located so local school districts, historically Black colleges and universities, and technical colleges can use them, officials said. Two hubs will be centered in Columbia’s Bull Street District and at Benedict College, with some others located at University of South Carolina campuses.