BEAUREGARD PARISH, La. (KPLC) - With no internet in some parts of Beauregard Parish, students in virtual learning are having to look elsewhere for WiFi.
DeRidder Junior High students Elizabeth Buxton, 13, and Ambrianna Woods, 15, had no internet at home.
“Yeah, it like, completely went out,” Buxton said. "It’s like, how are we gonna catch up, because we saw what we had to do beforehand and it’s a lot.”
Buxton and Woods are cousins who are living together after Hurricane Laura damaged one of their homes. Woods said they were supposed to get internet this week but the provider said they couldn’t make it.
“[Having internet] is really important because if we don’t have it, then we can’t do anything cause most things are on the internet,” Woods said, both eighth-graders concerned about their education.
On Thursday, Buxton and Woods headed to the Beauregard Parish Library for the first time to use their WiFi.
The DeRidder branch opened on Sep. 3 for library services and computer and WiFi use.
Patrons can bring their own personal devices to access WiFi from inside the building or outside in the parking lot without having to login with a username and password.
Those wanting temporary access to WiFi at home can checkout a hotspot, which director Erin Chestnutt said can connect with up to five devices at once.
Chestnutt said on Thursday there were about 25 hotspots available for checkout that can go home for a week.
“Adult patrons who have had a card with us for six months or more can come in and check out a hotspot for a week,” Chestnutt said. “Those run on the T-Mobile network. So, as long as there’s T-Mobile coverage in their home area, they should be able to get access for a week at home with those.”
Marjorie Wesley has a 19-year-old daughter who is a sophomore at McNeese State University. Wesley said she was worried when they couldn’t get their internet fixed.
“I panicked more than [my daughter],” Wesley said. “We got to get some internet somehow.”
After checking out a hotspot, Wesley says her daughter can continue her online classes.
“She’s been able to take her courses and flow right smoothly with that, that was the worry," Wesley said. “I thought [Suddenlink] was gonna be able to come, but it’s gonna be awhile still. The poles were broken, and it’s just a lot of damage.”
The library’s services are not only important at this time for Beauregard students, but they are also important for adults who need the internet to print, scan and fax documents, such as insurance claims and FEMA.
“Being able to provide this service for them is really key to our mission," Chestnutt said. "I mean, it’s all information services, and that’s a big part of what libraries do.”
Computers and laptops are available to the public to use inside the library.
“We didn’t want to deter anyone from being able to have that access [WiFi]," Chestnutt said. "We rely on internet a lot for making our connections with family, even. So, I think it’s very important, not just for our educational and informational needs, but also our social needs as well.”
Chestnutt said she looks forward to getting all of the other branches in Beauregard back open, online and getting services out to the public.
The Merryville and Singer branches have WiFi access in the parking lot but the buildings are closed.