The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Education are joining forces to promote the use of $16 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act’s Education Stabilization Fund for remote learning.

The agencies said that they will work with governors as well as other state and school district officials to help determine the best ways to use the funds for remote learning.

In addition to the government, various service providers have stepped up to support remote learning as a result of the pandemic, as Telecompetitor has reported.

CARES Act Remote Learning
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, part of the CARES ACT, provides more than $13 billion in grants that elementary and secondary schools can use for remote learning and other purposes, including “[p]urchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity).”

“Extended school closures due to COVID-19 have led to unprecedented disruption of K-12 education in this country,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a prepared statement. “Schools have had to change the way they teach, and parents and students are trying to adapt to learning from home. . . I strongly urge the nation’s governors, state education agencies, and local school districts to take this opportunity to help keep America’s students connected during this pandemic.”

Pai added that the FCC “will continue to work with Congress on dedicated funds to support home-based connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said: “During this unprecedented time, many students are distance learners and many teachers are distance educators for the very first time.  That’s why we’ve prioritized getting the extraordinarily flexible emergency education funding in the CARES Act to state and local leaders as quickly as possible. This funding really empowers them to do the right thing for students and teachers to ensure they have the tools they need for learning to continue.  In many cases, that means access to laptops, tablets and connectivity to the internet.”

As part of the FCC’s collaboration with the Department of Education, the FCC said it will publicize CARES Act resources available to governors, states, local school districts, and schools, including identifying service providers in their areas that may be able to quickly provide broadband connectivity and devices to support remote learning.

The press release notes, for example, that hundreds of broadband service providers have signed Chairman Pai’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge and many have agreed to go above and beyond those commitments to ensure that communities and schoolchildren are connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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