Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media
The state will invest another $43.5 million to get more laptops into the hands of students who need to access the internet.
Meeting at a Waterbury magnet school on Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont said the funds will purchase 50,000 laptops, create 200 public hot spots around the state and connect the homes of as many as 60,000 more students to the internet.
“In 2020, it is paramount that every Connecticut student has access to high-speed internet, quality digital learning content and a reliable and effective learning device,” Lamont said. “Too often, students of color and those in low-income communities are disproportionately disadvantaged by not having access to the learning technologies they need.”
The funding comes from the state’s portion of the federal CARES Act, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
The state collected survey information earlier this spring on the number of students who needed laptops and at-home internet to complete distance learning assignments. Schools across the state closed to in-person learning in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Districts like Bridgeport have received thousands of laptops from various funding sources, including the Dalio Foundation. Most came as the spring semester was wrapping up.
Companies such as Altice USA/Optimum, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast, Cox and Charter will provide the internet access. The personal hot spots will be covered by cellular signal through the student hot spot provider Kajeet and be provided at no cost to the users.
In the fall, although schools have been directed to plan for in-person learning, it is apparent that at least some students will remain home, educators said.
Districts will begin receiving communication from the state this week about the process to receive the laptops, broadband vouchers or hotspots. Community sites will soon receive communication from CEN about hotspots, the state said.
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