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'I'm not comfortable with my grandchildren falling behind' | Parents concerned by lack of internet access ahead of school year

Residents on Flippo Road in Stafford County have been fighting for internet service for years. With no WiFi, they are concerned about the impact on education.

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — The first day of school hasn't even started yet, and some parents are already afraid their students will fall behind. Classes on Aug. 31 will be 100% virtual, and they don't have access to the internet. 

Fourteen families live on Flippo Road in the Widewater District in Stafford County. The street is a tight-knit and quiet community. The only issue they have is no access to the internet. 

"It's been over 20 years and we still have the same technology we have when we first moved in," Curtis Dowdy said. 

Curtis was raised on this road and has lived here since 1987. He now lives here in his own house with his wife Nichole, and two school-aged children. 

RELATED: Return to school: Stafford County Public Schools opt for 100% virtual learning for fall

Flippo Road is in a more rural part of the county, but only about four miles out from Route 1. For years, residents saw development around them, and the internet never came to their street. Now with a virtual semester looming, they're not sure what this year will look like for their kids.

"I'm fine with keeping my kids home this school year. I'm not fine with my children not having a reliable internet source," said Nichole Dowdy. 

Flippo residents said Comcast has quoted them about $90,000 to install the infrastructure needed to bring internet to every home on their street, even though other homes and businesses just a few hundred feet away have WiFi. 

"I don't think the families on Flippo Road can come up with enough money to play in their ballpark. We need help," said Janet Dowdy, Curtis' mother. 

Stafford County Public Schools is offering up hot spots in school parking lots and internet cafes. The school's IT department also provided families on Flippo Road mobile hot spots. However, those hot spots aren't reliable without strong cell phone service. 

"I'm not comfortable with my grandchildren falling behind over the internet's almighty dollar. Get off of it, and bring it on in here and give our kids a chance," said Janet Dowdy. 

RELATED: No laptop, no high-speed internet: Group hopes to help bridge 'digital divide' ahead of school year

Residents have reached out to several lawmakers and school board members hoping to get some answers. 

The cable company's return on investment is more important than our childrens' education. That's what it boils down to," said Nichole Dowdy. 

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