Maine Secures Internet, Tablets, Laptops for 22,000 Students in Need
The Maine Department of Education announced Friday it has secured internet access and devices for all Maine students in need.
Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin made the announcement during the daily Maine CDC coronavirus update. She said the initiative secures needed technology for about 22,000 Maine students who had not been able to participate in remote learning because of a lack of access.
Makin said the department purchased six-month contracts for internet access that could take students into the fall if remote learning is still in place.
The initiative is a partnership with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, ConnectME, and business and philanthropic entities. The partnership acquired 14,494 service contracts through three different service providers. Nearly all of those contacts are for WiFi-enabled Samsung Galaxy tablets, according to a news release. Maine DOE also ordered 7,450 Chromebooks for those students who have internet access, but no device.
The announcement comes as Maine school children are learning remotely after classroom instruction was halted in March as part of the state's COVID-19 response.
"The suspension of classroom-based instruction because of the Pandemic has brought on new challenges and we should all be grateful for how Maine’s educators have adapted to provide a quality education to our children,” Governor Janet Mills said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ensure that Maine’s teachers, and all students, have the tools they need to stay connected during these unprecedented times. These new connections will allow Maine students to do just that and stay engaged remotely with their school no matter where they live.”
The schools that reported a need will receive information and the devices directly.
The initiative was paid for from a portion of Maine’s $9.3 million allocation from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which was allocated through the federal CARES Act, as well as philanthropic donations.