Recognizing the need for greater connectivity throughout the state, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education have announced additional funding for broadband educational opportunities. Federal relief funds of $26.2 million will benefit Iowa students. The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the crucial need for students to stay connected.
“Rapidly expanding and improving broadband access is essential for our state’s future,” stated Governor Reynolds. “As we have seen with a pandemic and an ever-changing economy, learning must continue beyond the classroom. These resources will equip Iowa schools and educators to pave a pathway for student success in the growing digital classroom and future workplace.”
Iowa’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes nearly $3 billion for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. Additionally, Iowa received $71.6 million federal relief funds for elementary schools as part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund provision within the CARES Act.
“Superintendents told us better connectivity is what they need most to provide high-quality learning for all students during the pandemic,” said Director Ann Lebo of the Iowa Department of Education. “We have students without access to the technology they need, and Iowa’s GEER grant is an important step toward solving that problem. I am so proud of the work school leaders and teachers are doing, and that we can help support it in this way.”
To figure out how best to allocate broadband resources, the Iowa Department of Education has partnered with the State Office of the Chief Information Officer to conduct a statewide survey. Iowa residents will be asked to identify the barriers they encounter when attempted to access remote learning. Families with students from kindergarten to 12th grade are the primary audience, but the survey is also seeking information from college students before making a final determination.