Connecticut Governor Ned Lammont announced on Tuesday the state will pay for internet access so 60,000 students can continue online learning over the next year.
Lamont says more than 100,000 donated laptops and free internet options will help students who missed out on online school when quarantine began.
“20-30% of the kids just didn’t have access to good internet access and they weren’t able to take advantage of the online learning that was available this spring," Lamont said. "So we’ve worked with the cable guys, which I was one some years ago, to make sure that we can provide internet access to 200 hot spots around this state.”
The $43.5 million program includes a budget for more than $4 million to establish WiFi hotspots in parks and public spaces for online learning.
Lamont said 75% of teachers and students surveyed by the state want to go back to school this fall, but he wants to help the 25% of students who feel safer learning at home. He said local superintendents will determine the neediest families who will receive one of the laptops and free broadband.
“At the end of the day, nothings going to ever replace an amazing building or an amazing classroom experience like this. We’re going to everything we can to build around that and that’s what this commitment is all about,” he said.
The survey released by the state on Monday also showed that just half of students expect to ride a bus to school, and many remain unsure about their back-to-school plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
New Canaan Superintendent of Schools Brian Luizzi said his district’s plan is to live stream classes for students who can’t return to classrooms.
“Teachers will be teaching to the students in the classroom but it will be streaming at home where they can log in with a link and a password so that they can stay connected to their classroom and their peers and their teacher.”
Lamont said many teachers also have health concerns. He said the state will work with local officials to ensure that schools will be safe to reopen.