Due to COVID-19, many schools and libraries have closed and moved to online instruction. On March 23th, the FCC confirmed those schools and libraries that are closed due to the COVID-19 are permitted to allow the general public access to their E-Rate-supported Wi-Fi networks while on their premises, i.e. parking lots. If you do allow the general public access to your networks while on campus, it is encouraged to have them remain in their cars to abide by the social distancing guidelines.
The FCC has waived the E-Rate program gift rules through December 31, 2020, to allow service providers to provide free or discounted services to the schools and libraries effected by COVID-19. Service providers are now allowed to offer upgrades to broadband connections, WiFi hotspots, air cards, and other equipment that could help students and teachers affected by these closures.
It is important to note that if service providers are willing to offer free or discounted internet service directly to students and teachers, not to the actual school or library, then these E-Rate gift rules do not apply.
The FCC’s goal is to support the general public during this pandemic through promoting connectivity. While the FCC has left it to the individual schools and libraries to establish their own usage policies, they do encourage that the health and safety guidelines are enforced.