The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund announced Monday that it will provide $600,000 to the Paterson Public Schools to help students stay connected during the remote learning.

Paterson is one of nine districts across the state sharing more than $2.6 million from the NJPRF to help bridge the digital divide exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many New Jersey school districts to switch to remote learning.

School districts in Newark, Bridgeton, Freehold, Millville, Passaic, Old Bridge, Red Bank and Trenton are also receiving funding to purchase laptop computers, Wi-Fi hotspots and internet access needed for remote learning. 

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“In today’s world, having access to a computer and internet access is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of NJPRF. “We are hopeful that our commitment - alongside that of others - will address this pressing need so students can continue learning through the pandemic.”

In Paterson, NJPRF will reimburse the district up to $300,000 toward the cost of internet access through Altice on student devices and $300,000 toward the cost of math resources for Grades K-5.

Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer said the district is appreciative of the grant.

“This has afforded us the opportunity to ensure that we make strides with bridging the gap with the digital divide,” Shafer said. “The funding has also made it possible for our district to purchase a K-5 Math Curriculum Resource which will impact an estimated 12,000 students. We thank the Pandemic Relief Fund for this great opportunity which will help the students of Paterson Public Schools.”

The decision by many districts across the state to move to remote or hybrid learning has exposed a “digital divide” between students in wealthier districts who have devices and broadband internet access and those in poorer districts who do not. Without access, students in districts that have gone remote are at a major disadvantage.


 
The state has provided $45 million to public school districts to buy digital devices and internet connectivity, but nearly 40,000 students across the state are still without a device or internet connectivity or both, according to the state Department of Education.
 
NJPRF CEO Josh Weinreich said the fund reached out to many districts to ascertain their needs and directed its donations to some of the state’s most economically disadvantaged districts, where the need far outstripped available funding. 
 
“This is another great example of NJPRF channeling the energy and resources of New Jersey to fill in the gaps and ensure every child has the equipment and access they need so that their education is not interrupted,” Weinreich said.

TAPinto Paterson is a media sponsor of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

 

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