As school districts prepare to start the school year with precautions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor announced efforts to bridge a digital divide in the state and improve remote learning.
The new initiative, "Everybody Learns," includes $43.5 million in funding to buy 50,000 laptops for students, 12 months of access to at-home internet for 60,000 students, creation of public hotspots free to the public at 200 community sites across the state and social emotional learning content for school districts.
The governor's office said funds will come 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 school year changed for students statewide in March as the governor closed down school buildings and students went home to learn remotely for the remainder of the school year.
Gov. Ned Lamont said a survey of the state's school districts showed 75 percent of students and faculty want to get back in the classroom if it can be done safely, which means that 25 percent do not and he does not want students to be left behind.
Lamont called the digital divide the Brown v. Board of Education of this generation.
Requests for the Chromebooks will come in through the school districts.
The governor's office said districts will begin receiving communication from the state today about the process by which they will receive their laptops, broadband vouchers or Kajeet hotspots. Community sites will soon receive communication from Connecticut Education Network about hotspots.
On Monday, Lamont discussed the coming school year during his afternoon briefing and said some school districts may start the school year with a hybrid plan, allowing half of their students to return to in-person learning, while the other half learn remotely.
School districts were required to submit plans by the end of last week on reopening schools in the fall.
After hearing from 231 school districts, most students and teachers are expecting to return to the classroom this fall, according to the governor. He said that some cities, such as New Haven and Danbury, that have more crowded schools might be inclined to begin the year with a hybrid plan.