Press release from Henderson County Public Schools:
Henderson County Public Schools is the latest recipient of Facebook’s COVID relief efforts addressing connectivity, online student safety, and remote learning needs during the current school closure.
To improve student access to remote learning, $50,000 in Facebook funds will support both technological and physical assets used by the district to reduce barriers to equitable Learn from Home instruction, and increase digital security for all students.
“We are so thankful to Facebook and their Forest City Data Center for recognizing the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 school closure, and for extending such a generous donation to support Henderson County Public Schools in providing continuity of learning for our more than 13,400 students,” said Superintendent Bo Caldwell.
“We are honored to partner with Henderson County Public Schools to support students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that the situation presents new challenges for both students and educators; however, we hope that this partnership will help students continue their education and learning remotely,” said Katie Comer, Community Development Regional Manager, Facebook.
To date, HCPS has provided more than 7,000 devices to students in grades K-12 to access Learn from Home assignments digitally, and grant funds address connectivity barriers that exist for some students and families. This includes the purchase and distribution of 25 internet hotspots for seniors enrolled in AP courses, who are required by the College Board to take their final AP Exams online in May.
As HCPS has worked with families to troubleshoot connectivity issues throughout the closure, families with no internet connection at home have been advised, on a case-by-case basis, to access district Wi-Fi in school parking lots from the safety of their families’ personal vehicles. Facebook grant funds are being applied to the costs of adding access points to increase parking lot Wi-Fi capacity at schools for this purpose.
The Facebook grant funds also support the purchase, production, and distribution of physical materials required for the district’s Learn from Home instruction. This includes the purchase of high quality reading and math workbooks for students in kindergarten, first and second grades who do not have internet access at home. Funds will also help cover the extensive copy and postage costs associated with producing and mailing paper-based assignments to students in grades 3-12 who cannot access Learn from Home digitally.
Caldwell said, “This example of community partnership is both an inspiration and a reminder that we will get through this unprecedented time, together.”