State department of education announces new partnership to connect students in need

The state superintendent of public instruction on Wednesday announced a new collaboration with Apple and T-Mobile to provide internet-enabled iPads at a discounted price to districts across California.

According to a press release from the CDE, “Apple and T-Mobile will fulfill orders from districts — which could reach up to 1 million students — with discounted iPads already equipped with high-speed internet connectivity.”

Tony Thurmond

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond

During a special webinar of the state’s digital divide task force, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said there were still “hundreds of thousands” of students who don’t have adequate technology at home. Thurmond also noted “97 percent of California schools plan to open with remote learning.”

Under this new partnership, at least 100,000 devices can be ready for back-to-school season, and Apple and T-Mobile expect to be able to fulfill school district demand through the end of 2020. Districts interested in placing an order for devices — priced at approximately $580 per student — have been advised to contact an Apple or T-Mobile education account manager by calling 1-877-386-4246 or submitting a request directly to T-Mobile through an online form.

This announcement comes at the same time the Governor’s Office is allocating $5.3 billion in one-time funding to mitigate learning loss and support the immediate needs of students and schools. These funds can be used by districts for purchasing technology that is needed to close the digital divide, according to the CDE.

For questions on how to access these funds, districts are encouraged to send an email to DigitalDivideTaskForce@cde.ca.gov or visit the CARES Act funding page located on the CDE website.