CEN Helps Address the Digital Divide

Governor Lamont Announces the Everybody Learns Initiative: A $43.5 Million Program to Close the Digital Divide for Connecticut Students

CEN Helps Address the Digital Divide

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont announced today that his administration is launching the Everybody Learns initiative: a $43.5 million investment in remote learning solutions to close the digital divide in Connecticut and empower students across the state to learn from home, especially as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues impacting the country. The governor said that the funding – which comes from the state’s portion of the federal CARES Act, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund – will be used to purchase 50,000 laptops for students, 12 months of access to at-home internet for 60,000 students, create public hotspots free to the public at 200 community sites across the state, and offer social emotional learning content to school districts statewide.

“There are few responsibilities more important to me as Governor than ensuring all students in Connecticut receive a high-quality, world-class education,” Governor Lamont said. “In 2020, it is paramount that every Connecticut student has access to high-speed internet, quality digital learning content, and a reliable and effective learning device. Too often, students of color and those in low-income communities are disproportionately disadvantaged by not having access to the learning technologies they need. Today I am taking measures to close this inequitable digital divide and ensure all of our students are set up for success with remote learning.”

The number of students identified as in need of access to laptops and at-home internet is based on survey information that was submitted to the State Department of Education and Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology. The state will purchase the at-home internet access through several broadband internet companies, including Altice USA/Optimum, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast, Cox, and Charter. The personal hotspots will be covered by cellular signal through the student hotspot provider Kajeet.

The Office of the Governor, State Department of Education, Department of Administrative Services, Office of Policy and Management, and the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology will coordinate with internet companies and school districts to ensure students receive the learning devices as quickly as possible, and the form of internet coverage that meets their needs and empowers them to participate in high-quality remote learning. Likewise, internet providers have agreed to work closely with the administration and school IT directors to support households that have students who will be learning this fall.

“In order to support remote learning needs for our learners, we need to make sure they are connected,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said. “Addressing the digital divide has become our priority since a device and connection are no longer luxuries. Once connected, they must also have access to high quality content to promote learning and social emotional development. Under the leadership of Governor Lamont, our commitment remains focused on amplifying social emotional supports for students and educators, and advancing equitable access to high-quality, high-impact, student-centered remote learning anytime, anywhere.”

The State Department of Education has made social and emotional well-being and mental health supports a priority given its relationship to improving conditions for learning and ultimately improving students’ school and life outcomes. During the long period of class cancellation, the need for quality social emotional and mental health supports for students and educators has been intensified by pandemic related trauma, anxiety, and distance from the relationships formed at school. Putting a strong program of social and emotional learning (SEL) and mental health supports in place can ease the transition and mitigate issues that may otherwise occur. The department will devote CARES Act funding to supplement the development of a statewide SEL framework that will support educator professional learning and implementation of evidenced-based programs. In addition, the department will:

  • Provide professional learning through RESCs and SERC to support educators in providing social and emotional supports;
  • Provide resources to districts for delivery of general behavioral and mental health screening; and
  • Promote implementation of universal SEL curriculum/programming at the district level and secure resources for outreach or professional learning on Equity, Implicit Bias and Inclusion.

“Educational equity in the 21st century means that all students, no matter zip code or race, have access to technology resources that allow them to learn from home, on the go, and in the classroom,” Doug Casey, executive director of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology said. “Today’s investments take a significant step forward in closing the digital divide for learners of all ages across our state.”

The 200 hotspots will be open to the public at no cost to the user. The state will partner with the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) to utilize the fiber and infrastructure it already provides to sites in communities across the state and boost signals for the public at large to be able to access for free.

“CEN is thrilled to be working with the state to do what we do best, leverage our unique and high-quality fiber network to help Connecticut residents access reliable and fast internet coverage” Ryan Kocsondy, director of the Connecticut Education Network, said.

“At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a huge focus for Altice USA and Optimum was ensuring that all students had access to broadband connectivity to enable them to continue their studies through the end of the school year,” Lee Schroeder, Altice USA executive vice president for government and community affairs, said. “We are proud to be working with Governor Lamont and the State of Connecticut to ensure continued connectivity for students as we head into the 2020-21 school year, and we applaud Connecticut’s approach to bring together schools, government and broadband providers to help solve the digital divide together.”

“We are honored to partner with Governor Lamont to support families as we all prepare for the back to school season,” Dennis Mathew, senior vice president for Comcast’s Western New England region, said. “As Connecticut continues to manage the COVID-19 emergency, we recognize that Internet Essentials from Comcast plays an important role in helping residents stay connected and we appreciate the commitment of Governor Lamont and his team, especially during this unprecedented time.”

“We are committed to bringing reliable, high-performance broadband internet to homes that need it most, as work-from-home and online learning has become necessary in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Juan Dominguez, vice president of sales for Atlantic Broadband, said. “We are pleased to help make this initiative possible, and will work closely with state officials and our local school districts to ensure that serviceable households with students currently lacking connectivity will have great internet backed with local customer care and professional technical support.”

“Over the last several months, Charter has taken a series of significant steps to help American families get and stay connected during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Camille Joseph, group vice president for state government affairs at Charter Communications, said. “Charter looks forward to working with Governor Lamont to support households that have students who will be learning at home this fall.”

Districts will begin receiving communication from the state today about the process by which they will receive their laptops, broadband vouchers or Kajeet hotspots. Community sites will soon receive communication from CEN about hotspots.

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2020 Member Conference Canceled

Colleagues,

We have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Annual Member Conference scheduled in Hartford on October 6-7.  

In light of the continuing challenges and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the unpredictability of travel restrictions, budgetary challenges, and the ongoing health and safety concerns of our membership, the EDAC in conjunction with CEN leadership felt holding the event as scheduled is unrealistic and impractical. All conference registrants will receive a full refund with the details below.  

While we are not meeting this October for our in-person conference, we ask you to still join us for our virtual UNconference series.  Social distancing may keep us physically apart, but we still want to help keep our community connected, provide timely content, and offer a forum for sharing.  We will be hosting monthly virtual sessions with content driven by members; stay tuned for more information and registration at https://ctedunet.net/engagement-events/ 

To submit a session proposal for the CEN Member UNconference click here, create an account, and complete the requested form.

 

Ryan Kocsondy 

Director | CEN 

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Spring Newsletter

Ryan Kocsondy
CEN Director

We are living through extraordinary times as the COVID-19 crisis impacts us in many ways daily. With many more changes in front of us, I’d like to share a  few words of recognition and appreciation for the tremendous efforts so far.

As Connecticut’s citizens have adapted to the new work and learn from home environment, we see exceptional measures of service, collaboration, and accomplishment across the state. CEN community members are working quickly to provide products and services to facilitate remote work, compliance, and equitable access.  State university facilities have been transformed into field hospitals. Quality technology and network access solutions are needed everywhere in making these transformations possible.

CEN has also been transformed to manage all aspects of its network operation and to continue moving forward on all initiatives. Our team has been mobilized to work from home with the ability to securely access all mission critical systems. We are pressing ahead on all projects and utilizing remote tools and resources as needed. Continue to expect from the team the same responsive, effective, personal service for all of your member needs.

I am very proud of our member focused efforts through these challenging times. Stories of people’s passion and commitment impress me daily. Please feel free to share with me your stories, needs, and concerns. I can be reached at rk@uconn.edu or (860) 622-4563.

Stay connected and stay well.

View Spring Newsletter

Ryan

CEN Member Conference Postponed

CEN Member Conference Postponed
October 6-7, 2020, Hartford, CT

In consultation with CEN’s Engagement and Development Advisory Council (EDAC) and considering the circumstances related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we’ve decided to postpone the 8th CEN Member Conference to October 6-7, 2020.

Based on the latest information from the Governor’s office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local health departments related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including specific guidance for large events, community gatherings, and travel, we cannot risk holding the meeting and potentially putting the health of our community members, staff, and the surrounding public in danger. With no certainty on the expected duration of this health crisis, we feel it is best to postpone the event to protect all.

We will continue to promote the event, accept rolling registrations, and work with presenters and sponsors in preparation for the new October date. Hopefully by then, we can come together as a community to celebrate our 20 years of collective growth and success. Many thanks to our members and partners for all their efforts in building an expanded 2020 Member Conference program.

Please stay connected to the conference site for further updates. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you will still be able to join us!

iboss Cloud CIPA Compliant Filtering Free for K-12 and Libraries

CEN is excited to announce the recent addition of iboss cloud CIPA compliant content filtering at no cost for K-12 and libraries and at volume pricing for other members.

The addition of iboss cloud to the portfolio will update the availability of options and provide a pathway for members to support 1:1 initiatives at scale, to support multiple operating systems in your environment, and to increase visibility and reporting without having to worry about inline appliances.

To plan your path to iboss cloud, email iboss at cen@iboss.com or call 877-742-6832. Just tell them youʼre a CEN member. Visit our From the Director webpage to view the full announcement, and check our Web Filtering page on our website in the next few days for updated content.

CEN Joins DE-CIX Internet Exchange

 

CEN has joined the fast growing DE-CIX Exchange. Founded in 1995, DE-CIXʼs is the worldʼs leading interconnection platform, managing more than 9 terabits per second peak traffic. DE-CIX New York is Open-IX certified and carrier and data center-neutral. It operates more access points than any other Internet exchange in North America.

This partnership will provide CEN Members with expanded capability by shortening the network hops for improved transport efficiency. For example, CEN’s peering with Apple via DE-CIX will enable much quicker and more efficient Apple IOS updates, as well as quicker access to the entire 17.X.X.X Apple IPv4 range.

CEN works with its members to make interconnections easy, robust, and expansive. Engaging with global partners like DE-CIX demonstrates and exemplifies CEN’s commitment to providing the highest quality services and resources to our members. For more information on DE-CIX and how it could provide enhanced services to your users, please contact CEN’s Member Relations team at 860-622-4560, option 5, or getconnected@cteducation.net.

Form 471 Deadline Extended to April 29

USAC has extended the E-Rate application filing window for Funding Year 2020 due to potential COVID-19 disruptions, as directed by the Wireline Competition Bureau. The deadline to submit FY 2020 FCC Form 471 applications is now Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at 11:59 pm EDT.

The situation will continue to be monitored to judge whether additional deadline extensions will be necessary. Applicants are encouraged to monitor USAC’s webpage (https://www.usac.org/) and newsfeed for relevant information. All applicants are encouraged, to the extent practicable, to continue to work on their applications and submit them as they are able, so that funding decisions can be made in a timely manner. For more information, please contact James Bachtell, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau at (202) 418-7400 or (202) 418-0484 (TTY), or at james.bachtell@fcc.gov.

iboss Cloud CIPA Compliant Filtering Free for K-12 and Libraries

Member Colleagues, 

I am excited to announce the recent addition of iboss cloud CIPA content filter at no cost for K-12 and libraries and at volume pricing for other members. This was also mentioned on the CET_K12_EdTech listserv last week (3/12) in support of 1:1 initiatives and preparations surrounding COVID-19 related closures and online learning.  

The addition of iboss cloud to the portfolio will update the availability of options and provide a pathway for members to support 1:1 initiatives at scale, to support multiple operating systems in your environment, and to increase visibility and reporting without having to worry about inline appliances.  The CEN iboss Cloud offering provides core features such as CIPA compliant web filter, SSL inspection, safe search enforcement, granular reporting, You Tube and social media controls, and the ability to help identify students at risk.  In addition, we have also included scale pricing for classroom management as well as items for all members such as malware protection and data loss prevention.   

  • Please feel free to reach out to iboss at cen@iboss.com  or by calling 877-742-6832 to plan your path to the cloud!  Just tell them you’re CEN Member.   
  • The CEN new web page is being built now and will be posted as soon as possible.  Please check https://ctedunet.net/web-filtering/ in the next few days for updated content. 

If you have any questions please contact me or the member relations team at  

(860) 622-4560, option 5.  

Ryan Kocsondy 

CEN Director 

(860) 622-4563 

CEN Member Assistance During COVID-19 Crisis

CEN Member Assistance During COVID-19 Crisis

Member Colleagues, 

 

CEN has been working to understand the implications of the COVID-19 crisis and its effect on IT responsibilities for business continuity, remote telework, and distance learning.  To that end, we want to ensure all IT leaders are aware of the following programmatic initiatives to help our members during this time. 

  • CEN does not limit or cap any bandwidth to its members and makes available the full capacity of the connection to CEN. 
  • CEN will not charge any member for increased utilization on existing ports through the end of the fiscal year.  This should provide some comfort to our members who are trying to understand the impact of teleworking and remote learning at a level not seen to date. 
  • CEN is making available a document to IT leaders regarding the shift to remote learning and working offsite: “Understanding Network Impact of Increased Online Learning.  Feel free to circulate this with your leadership.   
  • CEN augmented an additional 100Gbps of aggregate commercial peering in preparation for the expected increase in online learning and teleworking. 
  • CEN will stand ready to prioritize building Layer2 Cloud access to Azure, AWS, and GCP to provide for temporary capacity in these environments. 
  • CEN engineering will prioritize COVID-19 related member activities and provide any design and implementations on an individual case basis. 

 

Last week we sent communications regarding CEN’s internal preparedness for business continuity with the COVID-19 crisis, and further communications will be released as needed.  We understand that each of our members may have individualized needs during this time, and we highly encourage direct dialogue.  The best way to initiate the process is to open a ticket with the NOC at servicedesk@cteducation.net or 860-622-4560, option 1. Please understand that this would be more consultative surrounding augmentation and implementation needs rather than a professional services engagement.    

Please remember CEN ISour membership.  Together, we have tremendous resources that can really affect outcomes. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Ryan Kocsondy 

Director | CEN 

Four Steps Towards E-Rate Connectivity and Competition

A quarter-century ago, the idea of “educational technology” popularized the notion that children would benefit if computers in schools and libraries were connected to the internet. In 1996, Congress created the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, which provides discounts to libraries and K-12 schools to make broadband internet access more affordable […]

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