Connecticut closing digital divide as state announces full delivery of over 141K laptops to students in need


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont announced Wednesday morning that every pre-k through 12 student in Connecticut who needed an electronic learning device now has access to one. He added that the state has done its part to close the digital divide.

Superintendent of Manchester Schools Matthew Geary said, “This is probably our single greatest shot to reform education.”

Nine months into the pandemic, Governor Lamont said the state reached a milestone
in closing a divide that will allow all students to learn remotely.

The State of Connecticut said it delivered over 141,000 laptops and access to the internet for 44,000 students statewide, which will make Connecticut the first state in the nation to provide access to learning devices and an internet connection to students in need.

When Hartford schools re-opened in September, we met a third-grader who told News 8 he hadn’t done any learning since March because he didn’t have access to a computer.

“We saw some students go from the classroom on one day to a digital learning experience the next day without missing a beat,” said Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona. “We saw in other districts, unfortunately, four weeks before they even got anything in their hands. And the materials weren’t necessarily the same quality.”

In April, the state invested in 60,000 laptops through the nonprofit Partnership for Connecticut, spending $24 million. The state and the Everybody Learns Initiative later invested $43.5 million in CARES Act funds to obtain 82,000 laptops for students. This totals to $67.5 million spent on efforts to close the digital divide in Connecticut this year.

OPM Secretary, Melissa McCaw, said, “We have been able to purchase and deploy these devices across our state.”

As Covid-19 hospitalization rise, Lamont said he remains committed to in-person learning.
Still, most districts are currently remote or hybrid.

“These Chromebooks at home are going to be part of education forever. And you’re going to have more of a complementary education than what’s going on in the classroom and what you’re able to continue to do at home. We’re finding that in the workforce as well,” Governor Lamont said.

Education officials said this could have a lasting effect. They say even once this pandemic is done, snow days could become remote learning days.

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