For Immediate Release: November 23, 2020
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced today the completion of the distribution of more than 325,000 devices to school districts across the state. These devices support distance learning as part of the first phase of the Mississippi Connects digital learning plan.
Mississippi’s comprehensive statewide approach to providing technology to students was planned and implemented in a matter of weeks following approval of funding from the Mississippi Legislature. Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said the challenges produced by the pandemic provided the opportunity for collaboration among MDE, lawmakers, elected leaders, district leaders and state and national partners.
The Mississippi Legislature allocated $200 million for Mississippi Connects through two laws, the Equity in Distance Learning Act (SB 3044) and the Mississippi Pandemic Response Broadband Availability Act (HB 1788). The goal is for every student to receive the technology needed to learn at school and at home. These tools will enable students to continue making academic progress.
Districts placed orders to purchase over 325,000 computer devices through Mississippi Connects. Also, nearly 65,000 devices were ordered outside of the program.
“The completion of the first phase of this initiative required a lot of hard work and commitment by all involved, and I can think of no better reason for this project than to give our students the best opportunities to continue their learning at school or at home,” Wright said.
Additionally, as part of Mississippi Connects, MDE, in collaboration with technology partners, is offering virtual professional development for teachers focused on purposeful integration of technology in instruction. Participants have begun to participate in sessions from MDE partners, FriEd Technology, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Schoology, and Canvas, on a variety of topics, ranging from student engagement to best practices for hybrid and online instruction and learning.
“Teachers have the ability to request training based on their specific needs. We greatly appreciate our partners offering this high-quality professional development that will directly help teachers, and ultimately, the students they serve,” Wright said.
Mississippi Connects components:
- Laptops or tablets for students and teachers to use at home or school. Districts select Chromebooks, Windows laptops, MacBooks and/or iPads.
- High-quality instructional materials, learning management systems and other online learning tools. All software, security and support features come pre-loaded and configured for immediate use.
- Enhanced internet connectivity in areas of the state where students do not have broadband service. Districts will use funds to purchase services such as data plans and hotspots or to expand broadband access in community locations accessible to students.
- Professional development and technology support for teachers and students to implement distance learning.
- Student access to telehealth and teletherapy services for their physical, social and emotional health.