Just several weeks before the school year ends, the Guam Department of Education announced the start of a program to provide free internet access to students in public and private schools.
About $8 million in federal funds under the CARES Act will be available for the program.
IT&E was chosen to provide the services under the program which is called Providing Access To Homes or PATH.
Beginning next week, the program will provide qualifying families will be able to receive 100% federally funded mobile wireless devices that provide 50GB of data per month to support distance learning.
“We recognize the importance of online learning for our students, especially when health and safety are key concerns. We are honored to be selected by GDOE to provide our students with the tools and services necessary to access quality online education,” said Jim Oehlerking, CEO of IT&E, in a statement provided through GDOE's press release. “Helping our students succeed is an essential part of our commitment to the community.”
GDOE began the 2020-2021 school year with distance learning in place for all students. However, many families who lacked Internet access were not able to enroll in the online model of learning, opting for the hard copy model of learning instead. Now that the hard copy model of learning is being phased out, the support provided by the PATH program will allow many families to now make a smooth transition online.
Superintendent Jon Fernandez thanked the governor and lieutenant governor for allocating federal funds for the program.
“The PATH program is now available for our GDOE students and also for our private and charter schools who have elected to participate. While it took some time to jump through all the hoops, we look forward to working with IT&E to get this support in place, and we thank everyone for their patience.”
“Reliable internet connectivity is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. As more and more services are offered online to protect our island and meet the demand, we cannot forget that there is still a disproportionate lack of internet access for a large part of our community,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “As our Administration works to address this digital inequity, the PATH Program will ensure our students have access to the tools they need to succeed.”
“Over the past year, our homes have been the ultimate learning centers, and providing the necessary tools and resources to students remains critical as we rebuild a more prosperous Guam,” added Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio. “We thank GDOE for pushing this program through to ensure that thousands of students enrolled in our public, private, and charter schools can now have access to reliable internet services. As we work towards additional federal funding, we will continue to provide support and access to student learning on multiple fronts.”
On Monday, April 5, 2021, families who have applied and qualified for the PATH Program will be contacted by their child’s school with further instructions regarding the distribution of devices. In anticipation for the coming school year, parents who are opting for the online model of learning must register their student this April and are still able to apply for the PATH program. Parents should contact their child’s school for further inquiries.
The GDOE would like to extend its appreciation to the island mayors for working with IT&E to establish distribution sites for the devices at designated village locations.
Parents and students with a PATH ID can pick up mobile hotspot devices at the following locations and times:
Distribution Site Information:
• April 7 and 8: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sinajana mayor’s office
• April 9 and 10: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Dededo senior citizens’ center
• April 12 and 13: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Agat market grounds
• April 14, 15 and 16 - 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Mangilao mayor’s office
• April 17 - 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Dededo senior citizens’ center