At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, distance learning presented challenges for Mississippi students who lacked access to the proper equipment to participate. Today, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has announced the delivery of 325,000 laptops and iPads to school districts across the state.
As part of the MDE’s ‘Mississippi Connects’ digital learning plan, made possible by $200 million of the state’s CARES Act funding, Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright praised the completion of this major milestone.
“The completion of the first phase of this initiative required a lot of hard work and commitment by all involved, and I can think of no better reason for this project than to give our students the best opportunities to continue their learning at school or at home,” Wright said.
An additional, 65,000 devices were ordered outside of the program.
Granting all students access to the internet is another major hurdle that needs to be cleared. The CARES Act appropriations are also funding the laying of thousands of miles of new fiber in “unserved and underserved” areas through the ‘COVID-19 Connectivity Act’
Last week, Staff Director of the Public Utilities Staff Sally Doty explained that, to date, the $65 million grant program has resulted in over 1,000 new miles of fiber.
The MDE went on to state that they are offering virtual professional development for teachers “focused on purposeful integration of technology in instruction.”
“Teachers have the ability to request training based on their specific needs. We greatly appreciate our partners offering this high-quality professional development that will directly help teachers, and ultimately, the students they serve,” Wright said.
Participants have begun to participate in sessions from MDE partners—FriEd Technology, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Schoology, and Canvas—on a variety of topics, ranging from student engagement to best practices for hybrid and online instruction and learning.