Laptops, online access, part of Distance Learning bill headed to House
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A bill that would help Mississippi schools ramp up their distance learning efforts is making its way through the legislature. But some lawmakers are concerned there won't be enough money to go around.



Every public school student in Mississippi would be provided a laptop or tablet if Senate Bill 3044 becomes law. The Equity in Distance Learning Act would also upgrade technology and provide WiFi access. The Coronavirus Pandemic has highlighted the struggles rural and poor school districts are having in providing quality distance learning. House Democrat Gregory Holloway of Hazlehurst is on the House Education Committee.

"It's going to help the state a whole lot. But it's not going to address the total need that we have and I think the less affluent districts, those poor districts will still end up being under served at the end of the day," said Holloway.

The funding for the program comes from the state's CARES Act relief money and it would be administered by the Mississippi Department of Education. Holloway says a dollar amount hasn't been appropriated to the distance learning program yet. He says getting the funding to the school districts most in need is critical.

"The biggest draw back that we have right now, we've got to make sure that the money goes to the under served districts first but then that's a call for the leadership to ascertain where those areas and make sure that it happens for those areas," said Holloway.

The bill passed the Senate and goes to the House now for consideration.