Timely COVID-19 Legislative State of Play on K-12 Remote Distance Learning

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Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, school administrators and technology directors have been tasked with seeking fast and equitable solutions for online remote learning to keep their students and teachers safe.   

 

While many hoped that the FCC would grant longstanding requests for waivers championed by Boulder Valley School District in 2016 to allow E-rate to fund beyond school walls, the FCC has been slow to respond.  In June 2020, however, FCC Chairman Pai made it clear in his response to a letter by three U.S. Alaskan Senators and Congressman supporting a waiver for off-campus use of existing E-rate supported bandwidth, that a classroom resides only on campus and within school buildings. 

While the CARES Act provided funding of more than $13B through the Education Stabilization Fund for K-12, which included remote learning, it appears that much of those funds have not trickled down to the schools or have been diverted to shore up budgets to meet other critical educational needs allowed under the Act.  In an effort to direct more funding toward remote learning during COVID-19, Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), State E-rate Coordinators Alliance (SECA) and Funds for Learning drafted a proposal titled “Remote Learning During COVID-19 Act,” which sought an additional $5.25B in emergency funding to connect millions of homes and students with insufficient or no connectivity at home.  On June 11, 2020, more than 1900 organizations and individual stakeholders, including school superintendents and technology directors signed on to the Joint Letter to Congress in support of the proposal. 

To date, no action has been taken and concerns remain whether the languishing Heroes Act will adequately address additional and critical needs for broadband and remote learning for K-12 and libraries.  Most recently, on August 4, 2020, the Connect Americans Now (CAN) Organization, endorsed by 46 organizations, sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to provide funding in the next COVID-19 relief package, which included remote learning.  It is imperative in these uncertain times that adequate broadband funding is made available to meet the pressing and unprecedented needs of our K-12 schools and libraries.

To help K-12 districts, see how Velocity Fiber’s team is using a proven model to save districts money, while offering them a more robust fiber solution designed to scale for for the future without increasing monthly costs.

 

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