Millions available for Iowa schools to help students with online learning

    A hand puts a coin in a piggy bank on top of school books. (Photo by Getty Images)

    As some Iowa students prepare to start the new school year from home, the Iowa Department of Education announced that $26.2 million is available for schools and universities to help their students with internet access.

    Through the federal CARES Act, $19.3 million will go to 327 school districts and private schools, according to a news release from the governor’s office. The remaining $6.9 million will go toward public and private colleges and universities.

    Funding will go directly to school districts, who may use them for hotspots, offering discounts on broadband internet and loaning devices to homes. Allocations are based on the number of households that lack internet access or cannot afford it, based on a June survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.

    The nearly $7 million for Iowa’s colleges and universities may be spent to improve internet connections or provide professional development for faculty to train them in online learning. Schools must apply for funding, according to the news release.

    “During an unprecedented pandemic, we have had to adapt, innovate, and change the way we do business. Expanding high-quality broadband connectivity is more important than ever for tele-learning, tele-work and telehealth,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the news release. “This funding will play a critical role in our children’s education, helping to close significant gaps in broadband access for rural schools.”

    Linh Ta
    Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.