Riverside County Board of Supervisors unanimously votes to allocate Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to address gaps in distance learning for students in Riverside County
RIVERSIDE – As students and educators in Riverside County prepare to open the 2020-2021 school year with distance learning, thousands of students without reliable technology to connect to their education will now have access to computers and the internet thanks to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ approval of $10 million in federal CARES Act funds to be allocated to the Riverside County Office of Education Foundation’s “All For One” campaign.
“The All For One campaign was launched to directly benefit the neediest students and families in Riverside County by providing consistent and reliable access to technology and the internet to ensure continuity of education through distance learning,” said Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Judy D. White. “As more than 430,000 students prepare to start the school year exclusively through distance learning, I applaud the Board of Supervisors for recognizing the value to the community of investing in our students today by allocating funds that connect local students to their education.”
“The K-12 education system is a critical partner in the county’s efforts to develop a highly skilled and educated workforce which meets the demands of the 21st century,” said Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair, V. Manuel Perez. “This investment in bridging the digital divide in Riverside County not only supports the distance learning goals outlined in the federal CARES Act funding guidelines, but provides students and families who need it most with the critical connection to educational resources while learning from home.”
When schools were first closed in March, 84,855 computer devices at an approximate cost of $29.6 million, and 44,730 mobile hotspots at a cost of approximately $6 million, were identified as necessary to effectively deliver full-time distance learning to students countywide.
Since Governor Newsom mandated that instruction will be delivered through distance learning to start the 2020-2021 school year, additional devices have been purchased at the county level and within school districts who are actively deploying devices before classes begin later this month.
The CARES Act funding will address the current need which is now estimated at 50,000 devices and 30,000 mobile hotspots. Staff from the Riverside County Office of Education will work with technology leaders at all 23 districts in Riverside County to address the distance learning needs of students—prioritizing the highest needs for students who need access before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Challenges preventing universal access to remote learning include:
- Families with multiple students sharing one computer to access online learning resources
- Geographic diversity of Riverside County where families live outside of areas with traditional internet services
Launched formally in May, the Riverside County Office of Education Foundation (RCOEF) “All For One” giving campaign is aimed at bridging the digital divide by raising funds to provide computers, tablets, and/or mobile hotspot devices to students and families to ensure consistent access to distance learning. RCOEF is working with each school district to meet this need which exceeds current budget capacity. The “All for One” giving campaign is designed to leverage other public funding, private funding and support from the community at large to ensure that all students have the basic tools to learn at home.
More information on supporting the “All For One” campaign is available on the RCOE Foundation web page. Tax-deductible donations can be made on the RCOEF “All For One” GoFundMe page or by sending a check to Riverside County Office of Education Foundation, Attention: Ed Lewis, Foundation Director, P.O. Box 868, Riverside, CA 92502-0868.