Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday that Connecticut is the first state in the nation to provide a learning device to every student from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 who is in need to close the digital divide in the state as many schools move toward remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lamont held a news conference on Wednesday morning to give an update on the state's progress in closing the digital divide and said no state has spent more per capita on education from the CARES Act than Connecticut.
Partnership for Connecticut, a non-profit organization, spent $24 million in March to provide 60,000 laptops to high school students in need, the governor's office said, and Lamont launched the Everybody Learns initiative, allocating $43.5 million from the state’s portion of the federal CARES Act to buy 82,000 laptops and 44,000 at-home internet connections for Connecticut students.
“One of my top priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to minimize learning disruptions for Connecticut students and see that every K-12 student has the educational technologies they need to thrive in school,” Lamont said in a statement. “Over the past eight months, we made significant progress in closing digital divides, especially for students of color and those in low-income communities. The work does not end here," Lamont said in a statement.
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Lamont said the state has made effort to get Internet access to families who otherwise would not have it and set up more wi-fi hot spots.
"This digital divide is about education, but it's about so much more," Lamont said, he added that bridging the digital divide also allows families access to tele-health.
He added that snow days are no longer lost days and efforts will allow students to learn remotely.
Miguel Cardona, the Commissioner of Education, said the state has taken amazing steps to close the digital divide and it will produce fruit for many years to come.
Officials called the investment into students and access to technological devices and resources not only a near-term investment, but an investment in the state for the long term.