internet access

State Office Could Help Schools Pay For Connectivity Projects

It's unclear how the state office will impact school districts in Dallas and Fort Worth, which already have plans under construction.

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Texas has taken its first steps to open a statewide office on connectivity designed to help get money from Washington into local hands and get more Texans online.

School districts are at the center of that need.

A lack of internet access really hit students hard during the pandemic, and millions were unable to learn at home.

Schools got creative -- putting Wi-Fi on buses, handing out hotspots and spending millions of dollars to put up their own cell towers. Now that the school year is over, the state has approved a plan to create an office to approve individual plans to get Texans connected and use federal dollars to pay for it.

"We're really going to be able to set some goals and priorities for the state as to where we want to be with connectivity," said Jennifer Harris, state director of Connected Nation, a nonprofit aimed at helping bridge the digital divide. 

It's unclear how the state office will impact school districts in Dallas and Fort Worth, which already have plans not just in place, but under construction.  

"We're going to extend our instruction after the school day after-hours programming with virtual learning and tutoring, small group tutoring in the afternoon evenings and weekends," Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner said, as he rolled out the district's connectivity plan in late May.

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