Luria advocates for Internet access for rural low-income students
Congresswoman Elaine Luria, D-Va., joined a coalition of nearly 90 House colleagues in advocating for the creation of a designated fund, administered through the E-Rate program, to equip students with online access for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency and help close the homework gap during this public health crisis.
The Emergency Educational Connections Act (H.R. 6563), which would provide $2 billion for a special fund, administered through the E-Rate program, would increase access to the internet to students who currently lack reliable broadband access.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the nation have been forced to close in order to slow the spread of the virus,” said Luria. “However, roughly 12 million students across our country do not have access to reliable internet to continue their studies. A lack of internet access continues to put low-income and rural students at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers. The Emergency Educational Connections Act would provide federal support for WiFi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices to provide students with internet connectivity during this public health emergency.”
This pandemic has exacerbated long-standing inequality in the education system in the United States. The most vulnerable students will be affected the most because they do not have access to internet, laptops, and other necessary equipment to continue their education.
Without federal investment and support, COVID-19 threatens to increase the homework gap faced by students without equal access to educational resources, including the internet.
Specifically, this bill would:
- Provide federal support for elementary and secondary schools and libraries, including tribal schools and libraries, to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices (as well as internet service through such equipment) to students, staff, and patrons;
- Appropriate $2 billion to the Emergency Connectivity Fund in the Treasury for this bill;
- Allow schools and libraries to continue to use the equipment after the emergency period; and
- Ensure schools and libraries prioritize support for those most in need.