HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Students went back to school today in the county with the lowest broadband penetration of all 67 counties in the commonwealth – Mifflin County.

An abc27 analysis of census data found just 71 percent of Mifflin County families with children have fast internet access. That compares with 91 percent in Cumberland County, the highest figure in the Midstate, and the statewide average of 89 percent. 

Below is a ranking all 10 Midstate counties, top to bottom, by broadband access among families with children under 18: 

(Source: abc27 analysis of U.S. Census data) 

The differences matter more than ever because of the prevalence of remote learning.

Mifflin County’s 4,800 students are attending in-person four times each week, with “Remote Fridays” starting soon. To face the challenge, the Mifflin County School District is making Wi-Fi available in its buildings on Fridays for families who don’t have broadband and is working with local churches, such as the Lewistown Alliance Church, to open their buildings too. 

And when all else fails, the district is prepared to resort to lower-tech options. 

“Parents who have made it clear that they really do need a hard copy of the documents that the staff’s using, we would make arrangements to get that available on Thursday,” Superintendent Jim Estep told abc27.

He said the district took similar steps in the spring, when all learning was remote.