The FCC and the Department of Education are collaborating to bring distance learning to more students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission will publicize the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act resources available to governors, states, local school districts, and schools. That includes identifying service providers in their areas that may be able to quickly provide broadband connectivity and devices to support remote learning.
They’re promoting the use of $16 billion in funding from the recently enacted CARES Act’s Education Stabilization Fund for remote learning. In the Act, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund provides $13 billion in grants that elementary and secondary schools can use for purposes that include remote learning. More specifically, the CARES Act states that local educational agencies (LEAs) may use the funding for “[p]urchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity).”
In addition, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund makes approximately $3 billion in emergency block grants available to governors to decide how to best meet students’ needs. To apply, governors must include information on the extent that he or she intends to use GEER funds “to establish, develop, improve, or expand the availability, accessibility, capacity, and use of remote learning techniques and technologies,” especially for students with disabilities and students from low-income families.
“Extended school closures due to COVID-19 have led to unprecedented disruption of K-12 education in this country,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He characterizes the money being discussed as “a massive amount of funding that can be used for remote learning, and it can be disbursed and put to use immediately.”
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