New Emergency Connectivity Fund Helps Schools Continue Remote Learning
The Covid-19 pandemic may be winding down following the rollout of vaccines, but our school systems may be changed forever.
Schools faced unprecedented circumstances this past year, as they struggled to transition their students to remote learning. This was especially challenging for low-income schools that didn’t have funding for adequate technology. Additionally, schools with a high percentage of students that qualified for a free or reduced lunch struggled to adapt their curriculums online, as their students often had poor Internet connectivity.
Now, some school districts across the country have planned for a full reopening in September. New York City public schools axed the possibility of remote education for this coming academic year, as did New Jersey. But for many other areas, remote learning is very much here to stay. Some families want to continue remote education until their younger children are vaccinated, which may not be until about December. Other families may prefer the remote option because of convenience, social issues, health issues, and more.
As there is more demand for continued remote learning, schools, especially low-income schools, are hurrying to find longer-term solutions for Internet and technology deficits. But what is the solution if they don’t have the budgets for more reliable technology? Luckily, there are still Covid-19 relief funds that are opening, such as the new Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF).
What is the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program?
The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program is a recent fund through the Universal Service Administrative Co. of $7.17 billion. This fund is to support schools and libraries that need to purchase technology to better connect students, staff, and patrons engaging in remote learning during the 2021-2022 school year. It covers 100% of the cost for permitted technologies.
Who is eligible?
Any non-profit school and library is eligible to apply for this program. All of the schools and libraries that are able to apply to the e-rate program are also eligible for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
What sort of equipment will this program fund?
This program will fund personal technological devices such as laptops and tablet computers, as well as Internet hotspots, modems, and routers, which will make it easier for students to learn smoothly from home. Any device that is portable and helps the student to learn and work from home is acceptable. However, there is a cap of $400 per device per student or teacher.
How do you apply?
The first application window is 45 days and opens on June 29, 2021 and closes August 13, 2021. This application window must include funding requests for technological purchases that will be made between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Verified technology providers like CNS Partners who are familiar with this application process, as well as the e-rate application process, are able to help schools and libraries fill out the application form.
This has been an exceptionally difficult year for schools, and the difficulties are not over yet. Even as vaccines grow more accessible, schools are struggling to reopen this fall, or are struggling to continue remote education or serve students that work and learn while at home with meager budgets. Luckily, schools don’t have to go at this alone. Through a fund like ECF, schools can apply to invest in technologies that will help their students have a much smoother academic year than the last.
Teaching and learning can now happen at home if the students have the right technology for their needs. There are means to acquire the right, affordable technology for your school, no matter your budget, and we are here to help. Learn how you can implement modern technology in your classroom with our Educational IT Services. We help educators find affordable solutions to augment teaching in their classrooms. Read more in our eBook, Using technology to help shape the next generation.