In mid-August, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced a new program to connect students to their online learning from home.
This week, OSPI finalized contracts with three internet service providers—Ziply, Presidio, and Comcast—to provide the service to up to 60,000 students and their families through the end of the 2020–21 school year at no cost to the family, according to a OSPI news release. The program is reserved for students who are low-income and did not have internet access before August 2020.
To participate in the program, potentially eligible families should receive information, including a promo/offer code from a provider, from their local school district. Families may also contact their district to request information. OSPI is compiling a list with a contact person for this program at each district.
Families will sign up with the provider, install the equipment and then be able to connect to remote learning.
OSPI will also reimburse school districts who have similar agreements in place with internet service providers in their community.
The funding for the program comes from the federal CARES Act. To help with COVID-related costs, Congress provided $195 million to Washington’s school districts and $21 million to OSPI for statewide coordination and support. The $195 million has already been provided to districts to address COVID-related needs.
Of the $21 million provided to OSPI, $8.8 million will support this connectivity initiative. The other nearly $12 million is being used for educator professional learning as well as grants to community-based organizations to support students most impacted by the disruption of in-person learning.