School closures and the shift to distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic magnified digital equity issues, impacting our nation’s ability to keep students connected and learning. Through Closing the Broadband Gap, a project of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET), Manhattan Strategy Group has produced several resources for state and local education leaders looking to bridge the digital divide.
Nearly 16 million K–12 public school students live in households either without an internet connection or without a device adequate for remote learning at home, according to a June 2020 Common Sense Media report. The report also found that approximately 400,000 teachers lacked sufficient connectivity or devices to support remote teaching from home.
The resources from Closing the Broadband Gap highlight strategies and examples that school communities can use for increasing home connectivity for students and educators. The resources include:
Brief: Keeping Students Connected and Learning – Strategies for Deploying School District Wireless Networks as a Sustainable Solution to Connect Students at Home
This brief presents strategies for deploying off-campus wireless networks as a sustainable solution to provide home connectivity to all students and educators. The brief highlights six models and shows how school districts have taken diverse approaches to build off-campus wireless networks.
Podcast Series: Sustainable Wireless Strategies for Keeping Students Connected and Learning
This four-part series is a companion to the Keeping Students Connected and Learning Brief. The series explores off-campus wireless solutions that school districts are deploying as a sustainable solution to provide home connectivity to students and educators. Episodes include:
Home Access Playbook – Strategies for State Leaders Working to Bridge the Digital Divide for Students
OET hosted a series of listening sessions in Spring 2020 with state leaders to identify what digital equity issues were magnified as a result of school closings, what immediate actions states were taking to address these issues, and what long-term solutions were being considered to sustainably address these issues. This Playbook outlines seven strategies, or “plays,” that state leaders are taking to address issues of home internet and device access for students.