Following is a digest of questions and responses — grouped by category — to common questions regarding the Governor’s Everyone Learns initiative. In some cases we have edited the questions for clarity. To view a recording of the July 30 program overview, visit https://youtu.be/VBtmlAGMliE.
Q: Eligible Families — How do we account for families who may have had life circumstances change in the past few months or may in the near future that could impact internet?
A: Districts should enter the total number of vouchers or hotspots needed now to connect offline students now. Family needs may change, enrollment totals may fluctuate, and districts may face other factors that could alter the totals — up or down — from previous estimates of need.
Q: Eligible Groups — What student grades are eligible for connectivity solutions through the program? Are staff eligible?
A: All students in grades Pre-K – 12 are eligible, including outplaced learners. Adult education students are not eligible at this time. The program also does not provide connectivity solutions for staff, just for students.
Q: Unused Vouchers and Hotspots — If we ask for a certain number, are we responsible for paying for what does not get used?
A: Order the total number of connections needed now. We expect adjustments up or down at the point of fulfillment.
Q: Under-Reporting — How do we account for disconnected families who do not report a need for connectivity assistance?
A: To the best of your ability, leverage input from teachers and staff to identify connectivity needs. What students have consistently not attended online sessions or turned in assignments? Consider leveraging data from your district learning management system (LMS) or other apps to assess engagement gaps as indicators that students may have device or connectivity needs.
Q: Past-Due Balances — If families have an existing balance (payments due in arrears), are they eligible for the cable Internet connection vouchers? I have heard that some carriers will not provide service to families if they had been late for a payment within 12 months.
A: The State will make every effort to connect students, regardless of the status of their families' accounts with providers. Districts should submit requests for connectivity based on the best solution for the student.
Q: District-Wide “Public Assistance” Counts — What totals should I enter into the “Eligible for Public Assistance” field for cable Internet vouchers?
A: Enter the number of students who (A) need a cable broadband connection and (B) qualify for the National School Lunch Program, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, SSI, Medicaid, and others.
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Program Features and Options
Q: Multiple Connectivity Needs — Can a district request both cable vouchers and hotspot? We have a blend of community needs.
A: Yes, absolutely. The Everyone Learns program will provide a maximum of one connection per student, with a preference toward a cable Internet connection. Cable Internet provides generally faster speeds and has the potential to connect multiple learners in the same family. That said, districts should consider the disparate needs of their learners, including place of residence and carrier coverage. Kajeet mobile hotspots in many cases will provide a better solution for students with high mobility needs. For example, many learners live in dual-custody situations or attend school in a different town where they live (e.g., magnet, charter, or Open Choice students). Such students would benefit from having a connection that follows them, depending on cellular carrier coverage. District leaders should consider the unique needs of each student when choosing the ideal connectivity solution.
Q: Connection Speeds — What broadband speeds will be provided?
A: Cable Internet speeds will provide a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to the household and a 3 Mbps upload speed. Hotspot speeds will vary depending on the location of the student’s household or current location.
Q: Wireless Connections to Cable Broadband — Do cable vouchers come with wireless access within the household?
A: Yes, each of the cable carriers partnering with the State of Connecticut will provide for wireless connectivity within the household. In addition, broadband vouchers will enable students and their families to get online via the wireless hotspots provided by their carrier across the state and, in some cases, nationwide.
Q: Filtering — What levels of filtering will the connectivity solutions provide?
A: Mobile hotspots provided through Kajeet do come with CIPA-compliant filtering. Cable broadband connections do not provide out-of-the-box content filtering, though some service providers enable controls that parents may enact and control. Districts should plan on providing end-point security on devices that they equip students with, either previously or through the Everyone Learns initiative. For guidance on no-cost, CIPA-compliant filtering solutions, district technology leaders should contact the Connecticut Education Network (CEN), www.ctedunet.net.
Q: Current Kajeet Customers— Can districts using the Kajeet service prior to the Everyone Learns program appreciate the same discounts as through the State? Can these customers switch to unlimited data plans through the program?
A: Unfortunately not. Because of the unique nature of the State’s volume-purchasing agreement with Kajeet, subscription costs and data limits do not “scale down” to smaller, existing, district-level agreements. The State is open to exploring renewal options in partnership with districts already using Kajeet.
From a management perspective, current Kajeet customers will appreciate the same monitoring, loss-prevention, and analytics tools of additional Kajeet devices that they now have.
Q: Program Term — What happens with broadband after 12 months?
A: The Everyone Learns program addresses the device and connectivity needs of the 2020 – 21 school year. Districts will own the computers and Kajeet hotspots provided through this program. The State is exploring sustainability models to allow for cable broadband voucher and Kajeet service renewals. The Commission for Educational Technology is also actively advocating for changes to E-rate to provide for federal funding to offset the costs of home broadband connections in support of K – 12 learning.
Q: Other Kajeet Solutions — Is the State considering adding Kajeet hot spots for buses?
A: While Kajeet does provide for mobile solutions on school buses, the Everyone Learns program does not currently fund those solutions.
Q: Converting Other Hotspots to Kajeet — We have hotspots from a carrier already in use by students. Can we convert these to Kajeet-managed hotspots?
A: No, the Kajeet hotspots provided through the Everyone Learns program are procured separate from any other district-level agreement. However, district leaders may wish to contact Kajeet to look at converting these hotspots upon term renewal with other carriers.
Q: Public Wireless Access — What about the free access that was mentioned as being put in some communities? Will we know where that will be placed?
A: More than 250 public wireless access points will soon become available in communities across the state, many tied to CEN connections at public libraries. Follow @GovNedLamont, @EducateCT, @CTEduNet, and @CTEdTech for details on this part of the Everyone Learns program.
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Ordering and Fulfillment
Q: Past Survey Results — Is there a way to access the data that our district provided the Department of Education and Commission for Educational Technology in past connectivity and remote learning surveys?
Q: Cable Availability — Some providers post service availability in certain areas but then state that they cannot provide connections in neighborhoods listed as covered. How should we reconcile this difference in submitting our connectivity request forms?
A: In instances where carriers do not honor their posted coverage maps, districts should reach out to the cable companies. If this approach does not work please contact Doug Casey, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Cable Internet Program Enrollment — Who establishes the cable broadband accounts, districts or families?
A: Districts will submit their total number of voucher requests to the State. They will then receive the vouchers, assign them to families (in some cases one for multiple students), and keep a record of which vouchers went to which families. Families in turn work directly with cable providers to schedule installation and address any technical or troubleshooting issues for the duration of the account.
Q: Installation Logistics — Does the cable connection require the service providers to install at the student's home?
A: It depends, but in all cases families will work directly with carriers to set up service. Depending on the carrier and student address, some carriers provide self-installation kits. Some may require a technician to set up service in person. In all instances, families will work with carriers on the most convenient solution for their needs.
Q: Change of Address and Moves — If a family moves within the same city or carrier territory, can they continue to use the service?
A: Yes, carriers will honor the service within the same 12-month term covered by the Everyone Learns program. Families may need to pay a separate move fee, depending on the carrier.
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