A recent study by Common Sense Media’s found that 15 to 16 million students do not have access to technology they need to learn from home during this coronavirus pandemic. And, up to 400,000 educators don’t have adequate Internet connectivity to teach from home. So now as school leaders across Colorado are making difficult decisions about the return to school next year we are facing another crisis for those who do not have access to the internet at home.
Vulnerable student populations bear the greatest burden:
- 37% of rural students and 21% of urban students lack home Internet access
- 35% of Native American students, 30% of Black students, and 26% of Latino/Latina/Latinx student have inadequate Internet access at home compared to only of 18% White students
The good news is there is a way to help alleviate this problem: funding through the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC)’s e-rate program. Thousands of Coloradans have contacted FCC commissioners about releasing funding for e-rate, others have emailed our Congressional delegation requesting funding for e-rate be included in upcoming stimulus bills. More than 200 educators signed a letter to Senator Cory Gardner requesting they include in the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 (S. 3690/H.R. 6563) in the next COVID relief package.
The Senate bill appropriates $4 billion to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) E-rate Program to help close the “homework gap.” Schools and libraries would use these one-time emergency funds distributed through the E-rate program to support students, educators and library patrons in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill supports Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, connected devices to provide internet access for schoolwork.
We are calling on Congress to ensure that these critical funds are included in the next COVID relief package.
During this time of uncertainty we owe it to our students to ensure that- at a minimum- they are able to engage in their classes during remote learning, but perhaps more importantly that we level the playing field for students lacking access to our digital world.