Pandemic Package to Release $7 Billion for Public School Distance Learning

The public education sector will soon receive the needed funding to help schools provide affordable Internet connection to students from low income families. President Biden’s proposed $1.9 stimulus package has been passed by the Democratic-led Congress, of which $7 billion is allocated specifically for distance learning programs.

Advocates and those tasked by President Biden to work toward addressing the digital divide, say that groundbreaking programs will be launched to support existing school efforts to connect students in their district.

The first step that the president took to expand internet access was the signing of an executive order, instructing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take the necessary steps in increasing connectivity options for students without reliable home broadband. That way, distance learners will have better Internet connection even if they have to continue their education remotely.

In addition, President Biden has designated Jessica Rosenworcel as new acting FCC Commissioner. Many lauded Ms. Rosenworcel’s appointment as she has been a leading advocate for expanding broadband access and for championing the E-rate initiative.

What is the E-Rate Program

E-rate is also known as the Discounted Telecommunications Services program that aims to give up to 90 percent discounts to eligible schools and libraries across the U.S. The initiative intends to make telecommunications and internet services not only accessible, but also affordable to all kinds of learners.

How Did Public Schools Manage to Bring Online Classes to Their Students During School Closure?

When the pandemic struck and shut down schools, school districts were able to help millions of students get Internet connection so they can continue by way of distance learning. While federal relief money was not enough, state governments and philanthropists pitched in to hurdle the financial and logistical challenges of helping students who did not have Internet access.

Despite those efforts and a year after the pandemic has disrupted school operations, millions are still without internet due to funding limitations. Hopefully, things will change for the better