With schools facing an uncertain future this upcoming academic year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the full Assembly voted 72-0-1 on Monday clearing legislation that petitions the federal government to advance the “Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020.”
This piece of federal legislation would provide the additional emergency response funding needed by schools to expand access to online instruction among economically disadvantaged students.
Sponsors of the measure (ACR-171), Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden) and Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex), released the following joint statement:
“To thrive while learning from home, every child needs to feel their teacher and classmates are accessible, and that they have the educational resources they need.
“Recent updates from the State Department of Education put the number of students in New Jersey still lacking access to an internet connection or device needed for online learning at about 89,000. If this is not remedied, September will see seven percent of our public school students starting the year without the tools the vast majority of their peers have enjoyed since March.
“We cannot accept this reality. We cannot accept that students will be left behind. We have to address persisting gaps in access to technology before a possible second wave in the fall that could once again close schools. Otherwise, disparities in educational opportunity will only continue.”
The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.