School district working to close home-technology gap; parent input needed

Press release from Alachua County Public Schools

Alachua County Public Schools is working to give more students access to the internet and connected devices at home through an initiative funded by the federal government.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program was approved by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The goal of the ECF Program is to provide students with the same kind of access to digital materials and internet resources that they have at school. The school district could potentially receive enough funding to provide laptops with a built-in internet connection or hotspots to thousands of students who don’t currently have them. 

Information provided by families will help the district better assess their needs, which is why a home technology survey for parents and guardians is being launched today.

This week ACPS schools will be sending home with all students a hard copy of a short survey with questions about that student’s access to a device and internet connection at home. Parents are being asked to complete the survey for each child they have in the school district. They should then return the survey to their child’s school. Information about the survey is also being sent out through email, phone, text, and social media, in addition to the hard copy surveys going home with all students. 

Beginning today, families can also respond to the survey online at www.sbac.edu/techsurvey. The online version can be completed on a cell phone, tablet, or desktop. All responses will be confidential.

“We particularly need to hear from the families of students who don’t have access to the internet at home, either because they lack a device, connectivity, or both,” said Jackie Johnson, the district’s Director of Communications. “That could include families that don’t have enough technology resources for all the students in their household.”

The deadline for parents to submit the survey to their child’s school or complete it online is May 13. 

The district is hoping to order, receive, and distribute devices to students in time for the beginning of the school year, although that will depend on the availability of devices and other supply-chain issues.