The $5.25 Billion Cost to Connect Students at Home During COVID-19
May 01, 2020


By Alicja Johnson, communications manager, SHLB Coalition

On April 30, the SHLB Coalition partnered with CoSN, Funds For Learning, and SETDA to share the funding and policy actions necessary to connect students, teachers, and library patrons. The press briefing included remarks from leading experts in education technology:

  • Moderator: Cathy Cruzan, president, Funds For Learning.
  • Candice Dodson, executive director, SETDA.
  • John Harrington, CEO, Funds For Learning.
  • Keith Krueger, CEO, CoSN.
  • John Windhausen, executive director, SHLB Coalition.

Schools have either closed or shifted to online learning to mitigate further spread of COVID-19. According to analysis from Funds For Learning, at least 7.15 million U.S. households are unable to show up for class because they lack broadband access at home. Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Representative Grace Meng, D-N.Y., have been leading congressional efforts to get these students online. Next week, Sen. Markey will introduce a companion bill to Rep. Meng's "Emergency Educational Connection Act of 2020." While Rep. Meng's bill would provide $2 billion in supplemental E-rate funding to connect students at home, Sen. Markey's legislation will call for $4 billion.

Unfortunately, the SHLB Coalition is concerned that this level of funding won't be enough, as we articulated in letters sent to Senate Commerce and House Commerce leadership earlier this week. Funds For Learning's analysis finds that it will take $5.25 billion to ensure every student has the broadband connection they need.

Speakers at the press briefing shared their appreciation for the bills from Sen. Markey and Rep. Meng. They also explained the math behind the $5.25 billion figure, and urged Congress to provide sufficient funding as soon as possible.

For more information, watch the recording of the press briefing.

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