Governor’s COVID-19 Learn From Home Task Force: First Wave of 17,000 Dell Laptops Ahead of Schedule, Begin Arriving in Districts on May 18th
Conducting Statewide Survey to Determine Student Engagement, Connectivity and Participation in Distance Learning
(Hartford) – The co-chairs of the Governor’s COVID-19 Learn From Home Task Force (LFHT), Superintendents Paul Freeman and Nate Quesnel, today provided an update on the shipment and distribution of the Partnership for Connecticut’s gift of 60,000 Dell laptops for high school students in greatest need and the Nooyi family’s donation of more than 185,000 high-quality Scholastic book packs for PK-8 grade students in the state’s 33 Alliance Districts. At least seven districts will begin receiving shipments of the devices throughout the week of May 18th. As they continue efforts to provide devices to students and families, the LFHT has also disseminated a Distance Learning and Connectivity Survey to districts in order to further examine levels of student participation, access to technology, and barriers to equitable, meaningful opportunities for continuity of education during in-school class cancellations.
Alliance District Laptop Shipment (Round 1)
In regard to timing, the LFHT has implemented a tiered shipment plan for the 60,000 devices in three rounds of delivery based on a formula-based approach that prioritizes equity, student need, and safe distribution. In order to maximize the number of districts (19) receiving laptops - which are currently being built to arrive ready for immediate use - the first round of shipment will be devoted to shipping sites where fewer than 60 percent of students have 1:1 device access at the school level. The LFHT’s staggered shipment plan provides devices to nearly three-quarters of all shipping sites (i.e. 71 percent) so students in greatest need are connected as soon as possible.
The first of three waves of nearly 17,000 Dell laptops - initially expected to reach district identified shipping sites on or around May 25th – is slightly ahead of schedule. On Monday, May 18th, the first batch of laptops is expected to arrive in New Britain followed by six additional districts throughout the week, including Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Hamden, and Hartford. Dell is in direct contact with District IT Directors to coordinate delivery and logistics.
Distance Learning Student Participation and Connectivity Survey
The LFHT was formed by Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to lead the advancement of equitable access to high-quality learning content at home while classes remain canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Lamont and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) have prioritized equitable access to technology and connectivity with a focus on the state’s most vulnerable student populations, including those who do not have access to high quality materials to support their learning. While distance learning can take many forms, technology-based, online learning is likely the predominant approach but can also be achieved through printed materials and packets. To date, all Connecticut districts are providing a wide array of continued educational opportunities through distance learning and making continuous strides to help and support all students and families to participate in options for distance learning.
On May 14th, the LFHT began surveying districts to determine the extent of needs and known barriers to access for students in regard to devices, connectivity, and participation in distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcome of the survey will inform data-driven solutions to fill these gaps and allow the LFHT and CSDE to best provide districts with dedicated assistance to achieve district-wide connectivity and implement measures that improve student engagement and access. Through the survey, districts have been asked to provide what percentage of students are participating in distance learning via technology-based online learning and what percentage are participating via other methods. Additional survey questions include:
- What percentage of students are experiencing the following barriers to greater participation with distance learning? Access to device and internet in the home? Experiencing family, health and/or trauma issues, and unknown barriers?
- What specific strategies taken by the district’s educators have been most effective in increasing student participation in distance learning?
- Briefly describe the area(s) where getting fuller student participation in distance learning has been the most challenging, and why.
- What specific supports can the State of Connecticut provide that would be most helpful to the district to increase student participation?
Scholastic Book Packs
Deliveries of Scholastic book packs began on May 4th in Bridgeport, Hartford, and Bristol, and have continued arriving in Alliance Districts throughout this week. To date, over 100,000 book-packs have been shipped with over half of those delivered to districts around the state. The remaining 80,000 packs will ship today, May 15th.
Peter A. Yazbak
Director of Communications
Connecticut State Department of Education
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