Four area schools will be receiving mobile internet access and devices from an Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) grant program.
The four, Beggs, Morris, Ryal and Preston, received the grants as a a portion of the agency’s set-aside monies from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund created by the federal Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That act is designed to help students connect with online education.
“This pandemic has underscored the inequities of the digital divide that hinder opportunities for so many of our children,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “We know one-fourth of our students lack reliable home internet access. Many districts have used a portion of the funds allocated to them under the CARES Act to purchase a sufficient number of devices for every student to have access to technology, an effort we encouraged through incentive grants earlier this summer.
Districts receiving the devices, which Verizon sold to OSDE at a discounted rate, will assign and deploy them under specific requirements. For example, districts awarded hotspots must pay a nominal monthly service fee for unlimited 4G LTE data service for each awarded device for at least six months and assure that devices are assigned only to low-income students.
The program is through Verizon Unlimited which supplied 50,000 4GE data plans and Jetpacks. Verizon expects to ship hotspots to districts so that they will be available when school starts. The company will also provide technical support throughout the school year.
Districts have the opportunity to purchase additional hotspots for students not considered low income and for teachers and staff at the same cost and rate secured by OSDE for the grant.
Beggs will receive 400 hotspots, Morris gets 23, Ryal 71 and Preston 219.
Two EPIC schools received 4,998 hot spots, the most of any district across the state.