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Rural Kentucky mom can't get reliable home internet, so she works in her truck

Parents worry how kids will learn remotely
Melissa_Melton_of_Dry_Ridge copy.jpg
Posted at 6:39 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 18:53:25-04

DRY RIDGE, Ky. — Where Melissa Melton lives, at the bottom of Sipple Road, she can't even get cell phone service, and the internet is not reliable.

So Melton drives up to the top of the hill every day and works while sitting awkwardly in her truck.

“It’s eight to 14 hours a day sitting in one spot turned sideways working on my laptop on my hotspot on a conference call,” Melton said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Imagine, then, how remote learning is going to work for Melton’s five kids.

Rural Kentucky parents say they’re worried that the lack of fast, reliable, low-cost internet will put their kids at a serious disadvantage when school-at-home starts again.

Thomas Mains also lives on Sipple Road with six kids – four in Grant County schools.

“I feel like my kids are going to lose out because they’re not going to be able to get online and listen to their teachers,” said Mains.

Melton has tried Cincinnati Bell internet but says it’s not reliable because it is not the fiber-based, high-speed internet the company offers in other parts of the county.

Mains says his home can’t even hook up to Cincinnati Bell’s internet, and satellite internet was too expensive at $150 per month.

“I’m just using my cell phone data is what I do,” Mains said.

Cincinnati Bell provided a statement that did not specifically address the concerns of Sipple Road homeowners. It said the company is working to expand its fiber footprint in Grant County to reach about 5,400 households by the end of the year. The company said it also intends to continue expanding in Grant County in the future.

But what about now?

“I’m worried about my kids getting what they need on their education,” Mains said.

“I think it’s hard for the kids who don’t have internet to keep up,” said Judy Jackson of Dry Ridge. “I just think the kids are kind of getting a rough deal on this.”

If you need to contact your local school district, find phone numbers and websites here.

Find out more here about what is being done to keep your kids safe at school.