For New York State students to lead productive and successful lives upon graduation, they must understand and know how to use digital technologies. Technology knowledge and skills are vital for full participation in 21st Century life, work, and citizenship. Sufficient access to computing devices and high-speed internet, both in school and at students' places of residence, are essential for educational equity.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the inequitable access to technology and internet services in students’ places of residence was a priority for the Board of Regents and the Department to be addressed. The closure of New York schools and subsequent shift to remote learning only highlighted this urgent need. While New York State educators have made heroic efforts to continue to provide high-quality learning opportunities for our 2.6 million students, remote learning has presented significant challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the need to address digital equity in New York. While NYSED's mission and primary concern is education, the Department recognizes that digital equity is not a concern for the Education sector alone. All New Yorkers need access to broadband; high-speed internet connections are necessary for education, but also for access to healthcare, workforce resources, social services, financial institutions, and goods and services. Both availability and affordability need to be addressed to meet the needs of all New Yorkers.