April 7: Update from the Co-Chairs of the Governor's COVID-19 Learn From Home Task Force
Dear Members of the Media,
Last week, the Governor’s COVID-19 Learn from Home Task Force (LFHT) reported on the exciting progress we are making toward supporting continuity of education and advancing equitable access to distance learning during in-school class cancellations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes leading the safe, efficient and timely distribution of the Partnership for Connecticut’s donation of 60,000 laptops to Alliance District high school students most in need. As of the LFHT’s April 3rd application deadline, all of the state’s Alliance Districts have all opted into the laptop program. After confirming specific needs and quantities for each district, the LFHT anticipates that Alliance Districts will require nearly all of the 60,000 laptops in order to meet their identified needs.
The Partnership this morning held a special meeting of its Board of Directors to consider proposals and take necessary action to secure the 60,000 laptops consistent with the Board’s Equitable Access Program approved on March 23, 2020. As part of its United Response to COVID-19 for Connecticut's Youth and Young Adults, the Partnership solicited and reviewed proposals from multiple device providers for the purchase of the laptops. After careful analysis and extensive discussions, the Partnership strongly recommended Dell’s formal proposal for the Board’s approval as it contained the best price and discount of the submitted proposals.
The Board unanimously approved the resolution authorizing the execution and delivery of a final agreement with Dell to provide the devices at a total cost of about $23.7 million, including shipping and web filtering service costs. Dell’s devices align to the specific needs of the Alliance Districts as identified by the LFHT and offer a solid configuration that can be safely distributed to students while allowing district IT staff to remotely monitor and manage the devices with no added burden on the IT staff. Dell’s laptops are also already widely used by high school students and districts across the country. In addition to these highly durable devices with an expected life of five years, Dell will provide a comprehensive support package for one year as well as support for implementation and professional learning for Alliance Districts through a special program at no cost. The Alliance Districts will own the laptops, which will arrive ready for students to open and use immediately.
The procurement of the laptops is an exciting step towards the LFHT’s goal of ensuring up to 60,000 high school students will have access to high-quality learning content at home. Given the high demand for laptops and the current challenges facing the country’s supply chain, the LFHT is grateful to Dell and Microsoft for demonstrating a strong commitment to the education of our students in greatest need during this time of crisis and for working collaboratively with the Partnership and LFHT to coordinate the purchase of these critical learning devices.
The Task Force will continue to coordinate on a daily basis with superintendents and district personnel to develop comprehensive plans to promote equitable access to opportunities for continuity of education by linking the program with efforts to expand content and connectivity for eligible students and their families. We will also provide guidance to districts as they create their respective plans for receipt and distribution of these resources in a way that is expedient while also prioritizing the health and safety of our school communities.
We are grateful to the Partnership for its commitment of resources, time, and energy toward assisting with a united, statewide response to COVID-19 for Connecticut’s disengaged and disconnected youth and young adults. Moving forward, we will continue to keep the media and residents of Connecticut informed of our collective progress on a regular basis.
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