EDENTON — Edenton-Chowan Schools officials say they have a plan in case the internet goes down in Chowan County.

It's a plan they may have to use sooner rather than later. 

The evening of Aug. 31, customers of both Mediacom and CenturyLink, the two main internet providers in Chowan, lost service after a widespread power outage in Edenton.

Then the morning of Friday, Sept. 4, internet service in the county again went down, this time because of a larger outage affecting the region. A contractor in Rocky Mount cut a major fiber optic line serving several internet service providers, including CenturyLink and Mediacom.

Edenton-Chowan Schools Superintendent Michael Sasscer said that the district has a contingency plan in the event internet service again becomes unavailable to students.

“Teachers are prepared to offer offline options for students either through downloaded materials while on-campus for off-campus use or through paper packets and loaded flash drives,” he said. “These offline options are currently in use to provide equitable access to our educational program for students who have no internet service or an unreliable cellular signal.”

The district continues to explore avenues and resources to address so-called internet or cellular "deserts." Several Chowan areas, including Tyner and the southern end of the county, do not have reliable internet service.

The school district also recently announced it will make free meals available to students through the end of the semester. Under the plan, students, ages 1-18, will have access to free breakfast and lunch through Dec. 31. Standard charges still apply for any item purchased a la cart.

Remote learners may sign up for meals using the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdM-eMZ07BhyRNjMben90OWY-s6RjFGU6Zf94muYdpAETjTig/viewform.

Meals may be picked up at either John A. Holmes High School or Chowan Middle School from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The district is urging parents to fill out forms for free or reduced-price meals, so they can be prepared for the next semester.

For information, contact child nutrition director Stephanie Patsel at 252-482-4436 or spatsel@ecps.k12.nc.us.

Contact Nicole Bowman-Layton at nlayton@ncweeklies.com.