More than 9 million students falling behind from lack of internet connectivity

Nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is looking to help the millions of students struggling to learn as COVID-19 keeps everyone home.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for years to come, but where they may leave one of the biggest marks is on the education system. Since efforts to contain COVID-19 began, 125,000 schools have had to close their doors across the country and over 55 million students had to quickly adapt to digital distance learning. 
But dozens of cities and states have struggled to provide students with enough devices or strong enough Wi-Fi connections to keep them learning on par with their peers. After nearly two months, experts have said there are more than nine million students who lack connectivity at home are at a particular disadvantage in this new environment.
To help school districts address this issue, nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway has jumped in kickstarting the Digital Bridge K-12 to help respond to this immediate crisis while also identifying strategies to help school districts and policymakers address the home access gap.
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EducationSuperHighway’s CEO and founder, Evan Marwell, said that the organization identified four major issues that need to be dealt with.
“The first was that school districts don’t really know which kids don’t have internet access. The second is that even when they know that a kid doesn’t have internet access, they don’t know which internet service providers can provide service to that kid at their house, they don’t know what best deal they offer is and they don’t know how to sign them up for that,” Marwell said. 
“The third problem is that even though schools have literally tens of millions of devices, laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads, the vast majority of schools have never sent devices home with kids, so they needed to figure out how to maintain these devices when they’re at home and how to make sure kids don’t use them for things that aren’t school related. The last problem is we need to figure out how to pay for all of this stuff, especially the internet access, which we think is about a $2 billion per year problem to provide service to these nine million kids.”
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Marwell explained that EducationSuperHighway was created eight years ago to upgrade the internet access in every public school classroom in America so that every student had the opportunity to take advantage of digital learning. 
When they started in 2012, just 10% of classrooms in the country actually had enough internet access so students and teachers could use technology in the classroom for teaching and learning. 

The organization spent eight years working with federal policymakers, 85 governors in all 50 states and school districts across the country to achieve its goal. Today 99% of the classrooms in America have enough bandwidth to use technology and 94% of schools in the country report that they’re using technology in at least half their classrooms every week. 

With the success of the project, there has been a tremendous amount of adoption in the use of digital learning to enhance teaching and learning around the country. Having accomplished its goal,

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