JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced on Friday the first batch of computer devices ordered through the Mississippi Connects digital learning plan will arrive in school districts in October.
The first districts scheduled to receive devices are West Point and Tate County. All other districts that ordered devices through MDE’s bulk purchasing system will receive computers for their students and teachers throughout October and early November. Districts will follow their own processes for distributing their devices.
“We are thrilled how quickly our Mississippi Connects plan is able to get computer devices into the hands of students and teachers to facilitate learning,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Mississippi’s coordinated strategy to purchase devices in bulk on behalf of districts has pushed our students to the front of the line.”
The Mississippi Legislature allocated $200 million for Mississippi Connects through two laws, the Equity in Distance Learning Act (SB 3044) and the Mississippi Pandemic Response Broadband Availability Act (HB 1788). The goal is for every student to receive the technology needed to learn at school and at home. These tools will enable students to continue making academic progress.
Districts have placed orders to purchase 320,000 computer devices through Mississippi Connects. An additional 70,000 devices were ordered outside of the program.
Also, the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) approved the methodology to distribute $50 million to districts through HB 1788, which provides grants to Mississippi school districts, independent schools and Native American tribal schools to expand broadband access in unserved areas of the state. Funds have been allocated to districts based on FCC data of homes without broadband access and the districts’ population of students receiving free or reduced lunch.
Mississippi Connects components:
- Laptops or tablets for students and teachers to use at home or school. Districts select Chromebooks, Windows laptops, MacBooks and/or iPads.
- High-quality instructional materials, learning management systems and other online learning tools. All software, security and support features come pre-loaded and configured for immediate use.
- Enhanced internet connectivity in areas of the state where students do not have broadband service. Districts will use funds to purchase services such as data plans and hotspots or to expand broadband access in community locations accessible to students.
- Professional development and technology support for teachers and students to implement distance learning.
- Student access to telehealth and teletherapy services for their physical, social and emotional health.
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