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Abbott announces $420M reimbursement program for Texas Schools to continue supporting remote learning

School systems across Texas may apply for these reimbursement funds beginning Friday, Nov. 20.
(WTVG)
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 3:44 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) have announced a $420 million reimbursement program to cover costs Texas public schools incurred when they purchased Wi-Fi hotspots and eLearning devices like laptops, tablets and Chromebooks.

These devices were purchased so students could learn remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reimbursement program will use federal CARES Act dollars and builds on the progress made by Operation Connectivity, an initiative to close the digital divide in Texas.

“Thanks to the collaborative approach of Operation Connectivity, students across the state have access to the eLearning resources they need to stay connected and receive a quality education through remote learning,” said Abbott. “This reimbursement program will significantly ease the financial burden on Texas public schools that have purchased these crucial eLearning devices and also helps ensure that more students have access to these devices as needed.”

School systems across Texas may apply for these reimbursement funds beginning Friday, Nov. 20.

Operation Connectivity, which was announced in May, has helped schools acquire more than 2 million eLearning devices and more than 800,000 WiFi hotspots. Devices have been directly purchased by the state, purchased by school systems, generously donated by corporate partners, and in some cases, procured with the help of city and county governments leveraging federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars. This has greatly helped reduce the digital divide in Texas.

“This pandemic has amplified disparities in access to broadband and brought them to the forefront,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Giovanni Capriglione. “Together with our local education leaders, we have taken this challenge head on. With this investment we are one step closer to closing the digital divide and providing our educators with the necessary tools to ensure all children in Texas receive a high quality education.”

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