Funds released to OSPI to connect 60,000 students to online learning

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Chris Reykdal, State
Supt. of Public Instruction

Through the CARES Act, Congress allocated funds to local school districts and to state education agencies to provide support in covering emergency COVID-19 costs.

Superintendent of Public Education Chris Reykdal announced that last week, the Legislature and the Office of Financial Management (OFM) released $8.8 million of OSPI’s share of the funds so OSPI could coordinate and pay for getting students connected to their coursework online.

“With these funds, we will be able to connect up to 60,000 students and their families to online learning,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
“This was my number one priority for CARES Act funding, and I know this will make a huge difference for a lot of students and their families.

OSPI plans to enter into agreements with private partners to provide internet connectivity to students who are low-income. OSPI will cover the costs of internet for these families through the end of the 2020–21 school year.

“Access to internet is an equity issue, and I intend to use this jump start of one-time federal funds to create a push for universal basic education connectivity,” Reykdal continued. “I am thankful the Legislature and OFM released these funds to us."

Altogether, Congress allocated $195 million to Washington’s school districts and $21 million to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for statewide coordination and support through the CARES act.

Two weeks ago, OFM and the Legislature released $2.5 million for professional development for educators to learn to effectively use and streamline online learning platforms. With the remaining roughly $10 million provided by Congress to OSPI, the agency intends to fund competitive grants for community-based organizations (CBOs) to work in partnership with local school districts to support student learning in the 2020–21 school year.

“We know the pandemic has further exacerbated gaps in access to learning for some of our students,” Reykdal said. 
“Our system has transformed very rapidly to create a more predictable and effective remote learning experience for students and families this fall. Moments of crisis create opportunities, and our investments in training, connectivity, and community-based partners will make us a stronger public education system when we put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.”

Within the next couple of weeks, school districts will provide instructions and details on internet connectivity to students and families who may be eligible.




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