WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Washington state schools and libraries receive $28.8 million to support remote learning.
United States Senator Maria Cantwell announced Friday that Washington state schools, school districts, and libraries would receive a total $28.8 million from the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. These funds are meant to reimburse schools for the cost of the tools and services needed for remote learning. Cantwell secured the funding as part of the American Rescue Plan which was signed into law in March 2021.
“Since the start of the COVID pandemic, students across Washington state have struggled to stay connected to their classrooms remotely. At the beginning of the 2020 school year, an estimated 280,000 school-aged children in Washington did not have broadband in their homes,” said Cantwell. “The $28.8 million awarded to Washington state schools and libraries will help students from Anacortes to Cheney to Vancouver access the technology necessary from them to learn.”
The Emergency Connectivity Fund is a $7.17 billion program to help schools and libraries support remote learning. Created by the American Rescue Plan Act, over $1.2 billion was awarded across the nation during the first round of funding. Funding will help cover the cost of certain eligible equipment and services for use by students, teachers, and library patrons who lack access to broadband or devices such as laptops, tablets, and computers during the pandemic.
The Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction estimated that between 12% and 21% of Washington K-12 students did not have access to technology nor the internet connectivity that was required for remote learning. It was later estimated in fall of 2020 83% of students had consistent access to a reliable internet connection.
A fact sheet on the Emergency Connectivity Fund can be found here.