Rural digital divide stresses low-income communities amid pandemic

ABC News’ Zachary Kiesch heads to rural Texas, where a school district is making an unprecedented move to bring broadband internet to student homes.
4:46 | 12/15/20

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Transcript for Rural digital divide stresses low-income communities amid pandemic
The hurdles of online learning it certainly not been easy from one days to the next parents in this country were told that their homes would be turned into classrooms now imagine facing that reality and not having access to the Internet at home. According to a recent study a whopping sixteen point nine million children under the age of eighteen lack high speed Internet at home. The problem that is hit rural students in our country is specially hard. For Zachary quiche has more on the world digital divide. The Rio Grande Valley where Maria lives with her husband and two children is this stuff reminder of the real litmus wrath of Kofi. Your pants up and see sometimes I think people live comfortably arts community they believe people on the outside don't exist. Oman. The infection rated ogle county this southern most part of Texas ranks in the top half of all US counties out. It like the rest of the country that trickle effects of the pandemic had been felt by both parent and acute. Schools turning humble dwellings it's a home. Maria isn't what broke seven greater in her nine year old sister Juanita is a fourth grader. The girls are feeling disconnected both socially and digitally. Re at one do you detect we have the Internet but many times their connection blacks are flat out fails to work. Yesterday when we I didn't current class his teacher because she to have a hearing Cranston. Of the more than 600000 rural county kids living in Texas nearly 20% like access to both the computer. In broad bay and Internet service that's one in five putting them in the bottom third of the country. The buses come today but because Maria's mother's struggles with movies they've elected to keep the girl's home for fear of bringing back Kofi. Her daughter is growing up fat mom's pain debilitating the twelve real mixed in after school. I was sent down I does sound try to keep my sister to keep everything clean and sank into the pool for Clinton and lunch and breakfast and that's I'm. Thinking around the dishes and he and demand. Sometimes I can't walk for street authorities. My heart was filled with joy but it broke my heart to see my daughter. I never could have imagined my daughter knew how to cut back to it on me. With an outdoor kitchen in a hurricane ravaged trailer prepared for sale. It's hard to say that life was ever easy around here. 94% of clusters premature what we split the qualify for free admissions so. There was sort of a so this haven poverty. Much like the colonies were Maria it is the digital divide is persistent in the nearby town of Donna Texas. When I talk without a superintendent not just in the value of the crisis at a Texas. They all like seeing higher FAA air raid. There are seeing. Lower percentage of students who are maybe reading on grade level doing math and wearing them computer and math on grade level. Led by an innovative superintendent in the miss the pandemic the Donna independent school district made a dramatic and unconventional decision to build multi million dollar Internet towers and provide free Internet access to more than 141000 students who otherwise wouldn't have. Theater district where 94%. Of students are living in poverty in this stakes could not be hired these. Twelve towers offer not only opportunity but also access for parents and student to understand that education. Contingent generation. Politicians of policy makers have made the issue a priority. Texas Internet providers were recently ordered over 300 million dollars by the FCC. To get access to rural communities. Weeks really it's about understanding. Where that can activity is and isn't. And in working toward toward those long term solutions. For now the twelfth towers in things should be up race when weeks each student will get a law look at tech support. In they'll get a change. We want to make sure again that I was students despite of their social economic status. Then have the device don't have anything that. And and did have the tools that they need to make sure again that there are successful. A future for Maria and it's built on big dreams coupled with gripped in resilience. What are you wanna do when you grow up our hands often are you concerned at all of that the issues that you're having with the Internet and the challenges there. My prevent you from realizing some of the dreams that you have. Non because then there's like this swear that I always saying zone and don't give up in them with old tasks in life so I just remember that. And then just like those are task bringing to meet my own. Zachary case. For ABC news Laura.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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