The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) provides every K-12 school in Georgia with 200 MBPS of internet connectivity utilizing Peachnet, the Board of Regents' university network. This capacity is provided at no cost to the districts, as the state pays for the service with a combination of 4.8MM in state funds and the remainder from Erate funds from the FCC.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) funds
As the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning in Georgia and districts transitioned to virtual learning almost overnight, funding from the CARES Act was used to procure WIFI ranger devices that were placed on buses and parked in school parking lots so that students who did not have access to the internet at home could complete homework assignments after hours.
Statewide Data Plans
The GaDOE partnered with national telecom vendors and the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) to develop low-cost data plans on master state contracts from which districts could procure.
Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER)
In August 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced the State of Georgia's first allocation of Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding, set aside by the CARES Act, to support initiatives across all levels of education in Georgia. Below is a summary of the three GEER projects:
- The Homework Gap
One of the most persistent challenges in K-12 education is ensuring that students have access to the internet when they are not on campus. This impacts many students but is most prevalent for our students in low-income housing. To address this challenge, the GaDOE is working with LEAs that have low-income housing units in their districts to provide internet access to public K-12 students residing there.
- Access to Internet in the Classroom
As Georgia's schools deal with the ongoing pandemic, we have shifted our learning models to increased digital online learning. This shift has put an increased demand on our existing bandwidth capacity, causing many of our districts' networks to exceed their capacity and in turn impact the students. To remedy this issue, Georgia is spending 9.3MM to double the bandwidth from 100MBPS to 200MBSP for every K-12 school in Georgia.
- Access to Internet on campus outside of Classroom
Given the impact Covid-19 has had on the K-12 learning environment, we have seen the need for expanded use of open-air classrooms and other on campus alternatives to traditional classrooms. To address this issue, Georgia is spending 9.9MM to procure and install external antennas to extend broadband signal at all of Georgia's 2,310 public school campuses.