El Sereno Middle School Principal Joyce Dara and LAUSD Chief Acadamic Office Frances Gipson lead the days classes for the roughly 300 students that attended school on the first day of the strike.

By Kyle Stokes/LAist

Originally published May 3, 2022

The Los Angeles Unified School District has expanded a program to pay for wired internet connections in students’ homes.

LAUSD officials have also committed to purchase another 100,000 laptops and tablets over the next year — including 60,000 they intend to distribute by this summer — so that the district will have enough devices to ensure every student who needs one, has one at home.

The district estimates one in five LAUSD students lacks internet at home or has substandard service. Early in the pandemic, the district relied on mobile wireless hotspots for these students.

Now, any LAUSD family — regardless of income — can sign up through the district to receive fixed, in-home, broadband internet. District officials have contracted with Spectrum and AT&T to provide the service through June 2023.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said emergency federal money will cover most of the $50 million cost. He’s hoping that by moving forward with this program, LAUSD can convince the state or federal government to continue funding similar initiatives.

“The policy nationally needs to shift,” Carvalho said. “Access to digital content, with universal, ubiquitous, high-speed internet should not be dependent on a crisis or emergency.”

Soheil Katal, LAUSD’s chief information officer, said that the initiative began with a March 2021 board vote. After initial contract negotiations with the providers, LAUSD quietly launched the initiative earlier this year; already, a relative handful of families have signed up for internet service.

Under the arrangement, many families who sign up through LAUSD would receive pre-configured equipment to connect to their internet service; they wouldn’t even have a contract with Spectrum or AT&T. The Federal Communications Commission reimburses costs of installation to the district.

Families who are interested in signing up for the service can visit this LAUSD website or call (213) 443-1300.

This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2022 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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