Trump COVID-19 Mitigation Plan Anticipates Virtual Schools, Businesses

It looks like one major consequence of COVID-19 will be to move even more of daily life from the physical to the virtual, meaning that broadband access will be even more crucial that it already is.

Part of the Trump Administration's plan for re-opening the country and the economy--which is to begin no earlier than May 1--is high-speed broadband access for all school children and goosing e-commerce so even more business transactions can be virtual.

That is according to a draft of the plan obtained by the Washington Post.

Trump signaled Tuesday (April 15) that a blueprint for a phased re-opening was almost complete.

As part of the section on "Economic Recovery through Support for Local Businesses & Schools," the plan is to offer:

"High speed internet access for every family with students enrolled in k-12 public schools," though it does not explain how that happens for the millions of homes where high-speed broadband is not available.

It also plans to make investments in infrastructure investment to support "robust, engaged, telework for small businesses" and "Free technical assistance or access to subsidized consultants to help establish on-line commerce platforms, train business owners and staff to operate in an e-commerce environment and adjust business models for new economy."

Related: For all the Latest News on COVID-19 Impact on Industry

On the distance learning end, there will be grants for schools and teacher training over the summer to develop "curricula and teaching methods appropriate for periods of school closure" as well as supplying the "technology" for every student in K-12 to support e-learning "as needed."

That is because the plan anticipates students may have to switch back from actual to online schooling if hotspots flare up.

"As we chart a course to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and move forward, we are glad to see that one of the key elements of the FEMA/CDC plan is to fund high-speed internet access for every family with students enrolled in K-12 public schools in order to enable us to re-open communities," said Benton Institute for Broadband & Society executive director Adrianne B. Furniss. "As we have seen since the beginning of this pandemic, high-speed broadband access is an essential tool to help us achieve effective social distancing to fight the spread of the virus. With robust broadband connections, Americans can learn remotely, work remotely, and monitor health remotely. We need a national strategy to ensure High-Performance Broadband reaches everywhere and everyone to improve our ability to social distance in future waves, and enable businesses and workers to get back to work more quickly. Our pathway out of this pandemic demands no less."

The President has named a number of tech and telecom companies to his working groups on reopening the economy.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.