The Digital Bridge K-12 Program aims to provide every public school in America with a playbook to connect their students to high-speed Internet so learning can continue at home when schools are closed
SAN FRANCISCO – This week, EducationSuperHighway (ESH) officially kicked off its new Digital Bridge K-12 initiative to help increase Internet connectivity outside the classroom so that students can continue to learn when schools are closed. COVID-19 has prompted nationwide school closures, forcing nearly 125,000 schools and over 55 million students to quickly adapt to distance learning. School districts are scrambling to maintain continuity of instruction — and the 9 million students who lack connectivity at home are at a particular disadvantage in this new environment.
Digital Bridge K-12 (digitalbridgek12.org) is EducationSuperHighway’s way of responding to this immediate crisis while also identifying strategies to help school districts and policymakers address the home access gap.
“In just 8 years, ESH worked with a coalition of partners to successfully close the classroom connectivity gap,” said Evan Marwell, CEO and Founder of EducationSuperHighway. “But school closures related to COVID-19 have exposed another urgent equity issue — a remote learning gap. Now, with a set of circumstances none of us ever could have predicted, we’re taking this new challenge head-on in an effort to further level the playing field and ensure all students have equal access to digital learning.”
Digital Bridge K-12 will work to increase connectivity outside the classroom by providing every public school in America with a playbook and tools to connect their students to high-speed Internet. The initiative will offer essential guidance for school districts across the nation, developing a process for districts to efficiently collect data about which students lack home access, providing best practices for procuring and managing devices that can be used to connect students to the classroom at home, and helping them identify and engage with service providers who can provide home Internet access to their students.
“We believe in the power of digital learning to level the playing field for all students,” said ESH board member Jonathan Kaplan. “In this time of the pandemic, this means we are focusing our efforts on ensuring students across the entire nation can use technology to continue learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.”
In addition to offering resources and best practices to school districts, Digital Bridge K-12 will also research and pilot potential connectivity solutions through partnerships with a number of school districts through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. These pilot programs will aim to test replicable models and come up with solutions that other districts can use to meet the home connectivity needs of their most at-risk students.
“One of the strengths of our nation has always been the availability of a free education for all,” said Marwell. “We need to make sure that this remains true even when pandemics and other emergencies force our schools to close – today and in the future. With the Digital Bridge K-12 initiative, we’ll give school districts the tools they need to make remote learning available to every student.”