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FCC, Dept. of Education Put $16B into Remote Learning

Working with governors, states and local school districts on efforts.

WASHINGTON—The FCC and Department of Education are teaming up to help support efforts of remote learning throughout the U.S., utilizing $16 billion in funding that came as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Plans to help students learning from home will be developed by the agencies along with governors, states and local school districts.

Through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the CARES Act, elementary and secondary schools are provided more than $13 billion in grants for remote learning. This includes allowing local educational agencies to purchase educational technology, including hardware, software and connectivity. States can apply for these funds, but must ensure that they will provide technical assistance when needed to local agencies and that they share reports on the use of the funds to secure home-based connectivity and remote-use devices where needed.

The CARES Act also offers the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund with approximately $3 billion for a governor to decide how best to meet the needs of students. Applications for these funds require information on how they are intended to “establish, develop, improve or expand the availability, accessibility, capacity and use of remote learning techniques and technologies,” particularly for students with disabilities and from low-income families.

“This funding really empowers them to do the right thing for students and teachers to ensure they have the tools they need for learning to continue,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “In many cases, that means access to laptops, tablets and connectivity to the internet.”

The FCC will assist by helping to identify service providers that can provide broadband connectivity and devices to support remote learning in needed areas.

“At the same time, the FCC will continue to work with Congress on dedicated funds to support home-based connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

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