Abbott Says TEA Has Obtained 1 Million Devices & WiFi Hotspots
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Thursday night that the Texas Education Agency had obtained over 1 million devices that will help with students who are attending school virtually during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a press release from the Governor's office, the money came from the federal government and the CARES Act.
Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Education Agency (TEA), in partnership with Local Education Agencies, has procured more than 1 million personal devices and internet WiFi hotspots as part of the state's Operation Connectivity initiative. Financed by a previously announced $200 million allocation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that was allocated to the TEA, and matched by school districts across Texas, the procurement effort will ensure that students attending a Texas public school will have both a device and connection to the internet throughout the 2020-21 school year and beyond.
Administered by Texas’ Region 4 Education Service Center, the bulk procurement of devices and hotspots will lead to noticeable cost savings for districts of anywhere from 20-40 percent off the standard retail price for devices.
"Securing personal devices and WiFi hotspots will help meet the connectivity needs of students across the state," said Governor Abbott. "As school districts delay in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year, it is critical that the State of Texas close the digital divide and ensure access to virtual education for students who are learning at home."
"Governor Abbott’s Operation Connectivity Task Force, co-chaired by Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, is comprised of many players, including business and education leaders from across Texas," said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. "Because of the herculean efforts of our school districts, the nimble response of our Task Force, and the commitment of community-minded corporate partners in Texas, we are significantly narrowing the digital divide in the Lone Star State, faster than anyone thought possible. This work will help millions of Texas children."
Since March 2020, Local Education Agencies and the TEA have contributed nearly $900 million to help close the connectivity gap among public school students.
Not included in the press release is how the devices would be spread out across school districts. While some districts have decided to move forward with in-person classes to start the year, other districts keep pushing back the start date for in-person learning.
Dallas ISD announced on Thursday that in-person learning would not happen until at least October. As students and teachers return to the classrooms, cases of coronavirus are expected to rise and the possibility of school closures will linger for a while.
The hotspots and other devices should help students who lack high-speed internet at home.