Yesterday, Governor Murphy announced a three-pronged plan to address the digital divide for school children, in time for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan looks to put needed technology into the hands of all pre-K to 12 students, with unmet hardware and connectivity needs. This will be crucial, as Districts consider ‘in school-at home’ hybrid plans for reopening, or if deteriorating public health conditions force a return to virtual instruction.
The Administration’s approach to closing the digital divide consists of the following:
- The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) released today a Request for Information (RFI), seeking information and ideas to bridge the digital divide for New Jersey’s pre-K-to-12 students, including philanthropic support from companies and organizations to help close the digital divide in public schools.
- The DOE will offer a one-time $10 million formula grant using a portion of the State’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, to purchase digital devices and internet connectivity for one-to-one student use based on need and the availability of philanthropic donations.
- After philanthropy and ESSER Fund grants have been exhausted, the Administration will redirect Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funds to close any remaining gap and fill the unmet digital device and internet connectivity needs of New Jersey students. Up to $44 million in CRF funds will be available for this purpose, with an additional $6 million available for nonpublic schools.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x121.