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March 26, 2020

COVID-19: The Wireless Industry’s Commitment to Connecting America’s Students .

COVID-19: The Wireless Industry’s Commitment to Connecting America’s Students

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CTIA Director Katie Den Boer
Katherine Den Boer
Director, Communications & Policy

 

As schools around the country close to mitigate the risk of coronavirus, we’re proud to see wireless providers quickly stepping up to make sure homebound children—especially those in unserved and underserved communities—have the tools they need to participate in distance learning and stay engaged with their classmates and teachers from afar:

Partnering with schools.

Wireless providers have long partnered with schools and students in need to offer accessible internet connectivity and devices, and are rapidly expanding those programs to meet the needs of underserved children who are now learning exclusively from home.

  • Through June, Sprint is doubling the wireless data allotments allocated to students who participate in their 1Million Project Foundation. Established in 2017, the program is working to provide mobile devices and wireless connections for one million high school students who don’t have home broadband access. Sprint is also accelerating the onboarding of another 100,000 new devices for unserved students to participate in the program.
  • T-Mobile is making 20GB of data free per month for 60 days to schools and students who use their EmpowerED digital learning programs, which provide discounts on mobile data-powered hotspots, laptops, tablets and other wirelessly enabled devices to students who may not have access to high-speed internet at home.
  • Verizon has tripled its monthly data allowance through June for their Verizon Innovative Learning middle schools. Since 2012, the program has contributed over $400 million to under-resourced communities to foster digital inclusion, by offering free devices, data access and STEM-focused lesson plans that improve academic outcomes for over 200,000 participating students.

And carriers haven’t stopped there with entirely new programs launching to support remote student learning. Two standout programs include:

  • AT&T’s newly announced partnership with qualified schools to offer free unlimited data plans for 60 days to students for new school-issued tablets, laptops and hotspots for homework and internet connectivity. Schools can also protect their students with free access to AT&T’s AccessMyLAN security and filtering software.
  • Verizon’s agreement with the LA Unified School District to offer internet connectivity free to students who do not have access at home. Over 80 percent of LA Unified’s students are considered low-income and with the district’s schools closed until at least May, home connectivity is key for student engagement.

Fighting student hunger.

Nationally, over 29 million children are eligible for low-cost or free school lunches, a critical support system under threat with the closure of so many American schools. The wireless industry is doing our part to provide meals for students and their families in this time of need.

  • Verizon committed $13 million to nonprofits, including $5 million in support of No Kid Hungry Responds: Coronavirus, which will help feed low-income children who are impacted by school closings.
  • T-Mobile expanded their partnership with Feeding America, donating additional funds to help the organization’s quest to end hunger through relationships with manufacturers, retailers and other partners to collect and distribute healthy food that would otherwise go to waste.
  • Qualcomm donated $1 million to their hometown San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, with $500,000 going directly to a local food bank that is seeking to fill the food gap for residents caused by school closures and other COVID-related events.

Supporting educational programming.

Providers are also investing in educational programs and services that will help engage children in new forms of immersive, online learning.

  • AT&T announced a new $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections fund, including contributions to Khan Academy, an innovative online library of educational lessons, and funding 60 free days of Caribu, a video-calling app to connect family members in bonding and educational activities like reading, drawing and playing games.
  • Starting in April, Verizon is offering customers 60 days of free educational games and tools including, Quizlet, which helps students practice language, science, math and history skills, Bookful, which uses AR to create an immersive reading experience for children, Chegg, a study aid and Epic!, an accessible, safe, digital book library of over 40,000 titles.
  • U.S. Cellular’s JASON Learning partnership allows students to explore STEM learning topics through their “Storm Sanctuary” module, which is available for free for students to download.

Easing the transition for teachers.

The industry also knows how hard teachers are working to adapt their lesson plans to distance learning and keep their students engaged and we’re supporting them by offering new tools and services to make the transition easier.

  • AT&T is underwriting the State Educational Technology Directors Association’s Coalition for eLearning, an online resource center to give teachers the help they need to navigate this new digital learning environment.
  • Verizon’s Innovative Learning Schools Connection site offers teachers tools, use cases and tips on how to best teach their students remotely.
  • And Apple’s new Education Learning Series shows teachers how to use technology to most effectively communicate with their students from afar.

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We understand many students are relying on their broadband connections today to keep learning, and our #1 job is to keep those networks running smoothly. We take that responsibility very seriously and are working around the clock to keep our networks going. We’re also proud to offer schools new online tools and educational services to keep students engaged in this time of need.

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