For families without home internet, schools and libraries with the internet have been lifelines for connecting students to their online classes. The Emergency Connectivity Fund, a new program created by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021, is providing a total of $7.2 billion to schools and libraries to pay for laptops, tablets, modems, Wi-Fi hotspots, routers, and other broadband devices.
As of February 2022, the program had provided more than 10 million electronic devices and nearly 5 million internet connections, totaling $4.62 billion, to more than 11,000 schools and 900 libraries.
The law specified that schools and libraries had until June 30, 2022, to spend the money. In February 2022, the Federal Communications Commission extended that deadline to June 30, 2023 because recipients were experiencing supply chain delays.