Cephas, Harris, Schweyer work to bridge the digital divide, expand educational resources to students in need during COVID-19 pandemic
As schools remain closed, state Reps. Morgan Cephas and Peter Schweyer are introducing legislation to help connect all students with the critical resources they need to continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Advanced technology has made it possible for young people to learn outside of the classroom. However, not all families are able to afford these services and devices," said Cephas, D-Phila. "Access to quality education should not be based on your ZIP code, especially during times of crisis. This is just another way I am working ensure children in our communities have access to the same tools as everyone else."
The bill would allocate grant money to school districts to provide or expand access to technology and technological equipment, like laptops or tablets, for students who do not have the means to purchase them or are unable to access the Internet from home.
“As a parent of two children in the Allentown School District, I know that so many of our talented kids only have access to technology at school," said Schweyer, D-Lehigh. "When the need arrives when schools need to be closed, we must make sure students have the tools they need to continue their studies, regardless of their economic circumstances. This legislation will help close the digital divide for those less fortunate families and make sure their children do not fall behind on their academics in times like these.”
House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila., commended both representatives for their efforts, saying, “This unprecedented situation has forced innovative ideas to ensure that our students can continue to learn outside of the classroom. I applaud Representatives Cephas and Schweyer for working to help foster educational continuity and helping to spread access to Pennsylvania’s students who may not normally have it at home.”
Cephas is also working with state Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., to waive interest for student loan and home borrowers during this public health crisis.
The Pennsylvania Health Department continues to offer regular updates on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. The current advice from experts for prevention and spread of the coronavirus is: Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, make smart choices about attending public events, and stay home if you are sick. Listen to the experts. For the latest on the number of cases, plus information on prevention and preparation, residents should visit https://www.health.pa.gov/.