Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer
Students in need as education moves increasingly online are getting a helping hand from Harris County as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Commissioners voted Tuesday to allocate $32 million toward more than 200,000 devices and 80,000 WiFi hotspots to help students in need participate in virtual learning this upcoming semester, the Houston Chronicle reports.
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The funds were provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act. The initiative will target low-income students and is partnering with the Texas Education Agency and T-Mobile.
Commissioners hope the program will lessen the digital divide in the area that will make schooling even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Rodney Ellis cited a study that found about a quarter of Texas students need computers and devices for at-home learning, and that a third need better internet access. Of those that lack adequate internet access, two-thirds are Black, Latino or Native American.
“Educational outcomes were already highly unequal before COVID-19,” Ellis said. “As instruction moves online, we need to make sure that no child is left behind in their education, particularly those in low-income and communities of color, who do not have high-speed internet and devices at home.”
ABC13 reports that many school districts have already surveyed families to see which students are most in need for devices.
Several school districts have already delayed the start of the school year, are offering online learning or both.