Philanthropic Donation Helps School Districts with Remote Learning

Governor Ned Lamont announced that a second philanthropic donor has stepped forward to help Connecticut’s school districts – particularly those that are under-resourced – employ remote learning methods as classes remain canceled statewide for an extended period due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Indra and Raj Nooyi have informed the governor that they plan to make a donation of high-quality, take-home books from Scholastic that will provide reading and writing instruction to more than 185,000 prekindergarten to 8th grade students while learning from home.

Students in prekindergarten through the third grade will receive four books per student plus a family resource guide. Students from fourth through eighth grades will receive three books per student and a family resource guide. The books are aligned with Connecticut state learning standards, and parents are encouraged to work with students at home to complete these exercises. Students will be able to keep the books indefinitely.

The donation is the second in as many days, as on Monday the Partnership for Connecticut, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Connecticut’s disengaged and disconnected youth and young adults access education and career opportunities, announced that it plans to donate up to 60,000 laptops to students from some of the state’s most under-resources high schools. The laptops will be targeted toward the state’s 33 Alliance Districts that serve significant populations of high school students who are eligible for free or reduce-price meals.

To lead the distribution of these donations, Governor Lamont and State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Miguel Cardona are creating the Governor’s COVID-19 Learn from Home Task Force, which will consist of several superintendents from across the state, including Paul Freeman (Guilford) and Nate Quesnel (East Hartford), who will serve as co-chairs, and Michael Connor (Middletown), Melony Brady Shanley (Winchester), Verna Ruffin (Waterbury), and Iline Tracy (New Haven), who will serve as members. Nick Simmons, Manager of Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Governor, and Desi Nesmith, Deputy Commissioner of SDE, will also serve as members. The group will be responsible for coordinating superintendents of districts that opt-in for the donations to ensure a safe and efficient distribution process of these critical learning materials to districts and families across the state.

“There are few things more important to me during the COVID-19 crisis than ensuring all of our students – in every district – continues receiving a high-quality education while at home and not one student is left behind,” Governor Lamont said. “That is why it is so encouraging that the Partnership for Connecticut is donating more than 60,000 laptops and the Nooyi family is donating these Scholastic books for home libraries, and I want to thank them for these generous gifts. During this difficult time, we need to make sure that remote learning is being done right, and our state is committed to working with each school district across the state and assist in their efforts to ensure that their needs are met to our greatest ability.”

 The State Department of Education recently distributed a guidance packet to school districts that provides resources to support student learning during the COVID-19 crisis. Commissioner Cardona is urging every parent in the state to review its materials.

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