WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema helped introduce the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation aimed at ensuring all Arizona K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Expanding internet access and connectivity across Arizona ensures every Arizona student gets equal access to their education during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Sinema.
According to the FCC, over 20 million Americans lack access to quality internet at home, including as many as 12 million children. This includes tribal communities, where 36% of households lack access to broadband. Students without internet access at home consistently score lower in reading, math, and science. This existing inequity is being exacerbated during the current public health emergency as schools suspend in-person classes and transition to remote learning over the internet to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff. Internet access is a necessity during this crisis, and the Sinema-backed bipartisan bill ensures that all Arizona students have equal access to education and communication networks throughout this national emergency.
Specifically, the Sinema-backed Emergency Educational Connections Act would:
- Provide $4 billion in federal support for elementary and secondary schools and libraries, including tribal schools and libraries, to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices (as well as internet service through such equipment) to students, staff, and patrons;
- Allow schools and libraries to continue to use the equipment after the emergency period; and
- Ensure schools and libraries prioritize support for those most in need, following the guidelines of the E-Rate program.
Sinema also cosponsored the bipartisan Keeping Critical Connections Act—legislation that helps small broadband companies provide critical connectivity for students and families to continue their education during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sinema has also added a resources page to her website, www.sinema.senate.gov/corona, for Arizonans looking for the latest information on coronavirus.