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Georgia addresses digital divide, helping 12.5M students across 11 states shift to remote learning

Georgia Department of Education

Georgia

As school systems nationwide shifted to remote learning, they had to address the growing digital divide in their communities. To ensure that all students had access to both internet and the necessary technology to participate in online school, Georgia DoE utilized CARES Act funding to increase digital equity.

Topics Covered

Digital Divide

Cost

Initial: Zero Upfront Cost

Funding

Federal grants

Project Status

Operational since 2020

Gov Champion

Georgia Department of Education

Problem Addressed

Georgia DoE was pressed to enable distance learning, and quickly.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, states nationwide struggled to enable distance learning in their communities. With the 2020-2021 school year approaching, this need became more prevalent than ever.

The shift to remote learning only perpetuated the digital divide between students who had internet access at home and those who did not. This presented even greater educational disparity.

To address this, hot spots and alternate internet access options needed to be distributed to students.

Solutions Used

The department created the Georgia Sponsor State Distance Learning to discount service plans for 12.5M students.

Georgia Department of Education created the Georgia Sponsor State Distance Learning Initiative in partnership with Verizon, discounting service plans for 12.5 million students, not just for Georgia, but also for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

School districts paid for the plan using funds from the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The plan includes unlimited 4G LTE internet access, mobile device management (MDM) and applications that promote compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Students lacking the proper technology to access the internet from home received 4G LTE wireless connectivity devices with an unlimited data plan.

"As a nation and as an educational community, we are truly in this together as we respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership allows us to come together with other states to leverage buying power and deliver connectivity solutions for our students," remarks Richard Woods, Georgia State School Superintendent.

Outcomes

1

Students can now participate in remote learning, even if they do not have a broadband internet connection at home

2

School districts have the flexibility to order devices on their own schedules, which are then sent within 3-5 days once inventory is confirmed

3

The barriers to entry to switch to remote learning from in-class learning are much lower

4

12.5 million students across 11 states can be covered by the agreement

Who Should Consider

Counties, cities, or education departments looking to close the digital divide in their communities by increasing overall internet access.

Last Updated

Mar 23rd, 2022

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