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Taskforce created to help students, families access technology

TUCSON (KVOA) - The Arizona Department of Education Technology Task Force released the culmination of a task force formed in June 2020 about the equality of access to technology on Thursday.

Formed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, the task force was created to address the hardships some students and families had to access technology, a problem worsened by COVID-19.

The task force met monthly brainstorming and creating easier resources for teachers, schools students, and families.

This force also recommended a long-term solution to the ADE and provided them with information on the technological divide in rural Arizona.

The ADE has since formed a new website that will serve as a place where people can find resources, federal E-Rate programs and broadband programs of school officials.

"Now is the time to partner and invest our time, resources, and collective expertise to bridge the digital equity and opportunity gap by developing systems accessible by all," said Janice Mak, member of the Arizona State Board of Education and task force chairperson. “Thanks to Superintendent Hoffman's vision and the tremendous dedication and work of this task force, this set of resources outline a vision and path to advance inclusive digital solutions to ensure that every student in Arizona has access to learning anytime, everywhere."

They also suggest that an official office of digital teaching and an advisory board be put into place with knowledge about education and technology, but it is still pending.

The department is currently looking over the information the task force has submitted and will continue to make changes to close the gap.

“Equitable and reliable access to technology and the internet is essential for today’s students. Arizona has made many gains in this area. However, there is still a long road ahead to ensuring every Arizona student and family can be connected to the internet and have up-to-date, reliable technology,” said Hoffman. “I am very appreciative of the education, industry, and community leaders for their service on the Technology Task Force.”

More information and resources can be found below:

Digital Divide in Rural Arizona Whitepaper 
Digital teaching and Learning Resource  
Parent/Caretaker Technology Toolkit 
New Technology Webpage  
Long Term Recommendations 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by News 4 Tucson's Kelly Horyczun.

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