In the midst of the pandemic, Ohio is committed to supporting schools in deploying meaningful, engaging and transformative remote education options. One of the fundamental ways of addressing chronic absenteeism is by providing students and their families with the appropriate resources and wrap-around services that support student engagement and learning. Many students have not been able to take full advantage of the education opportunities their schools offer due to lack of internet connectivity and digital devices, which are essential resources in digital remote education. Ohio is responding to ensure each child has access to internet connectivity and technology devices through the following efforts:
- $50 Million BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant: Ohio has dedicated $50 million through the BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant Program to award grants to school districts, joint vocational school districts, educational service centers, community schools, STEM schools, and non-public schools to purchase individual hotspots, in-home enterprise solutions, mobile hotspots, or internet-connected devices for in need students. Each applicant can request up to $250,000 to provide internet connectivity to economically disadvantaged and vulnerable students. More information on the grant can be found on the Ohio K-12 Help website.
- RFI for Internet Connectivity and Digital Devices: In an effort to provide districts and Information Technology Centers with the ability to rapidly search, review and compare prices for purchasing equipment and services for remote education, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, in partnership with BroadbandOhio, issued a Request for Information(RFI) to service providers, which can be found on the State of Ohio Procurement website.
- Launching RemotEDx and Deploying Connectivity Champions. Ohio has dedicated up to $15 million of its CARES Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief to launch RemotEDx, a platform to coordinate, validate and help deploy resources to schools and districts to promote excellent, high-quality remote education delivery and experiences. Through RemotEDx, regional Connectivity Champions will be deployed to help schools and districts overcome barriers to ensuring internet connectivity and technology devices for their students.
This suite of supports will ensure that schools, students and families are well prepared for the 2020-21 academic school year and all students will be equipped with the right tools that enable them to take full advantage of education opportunities their schools offer.