Idaho is short more than 186,000 digital devices needed to provide access for students and teachers, and local officials are working to bridge that gap before the fall semester.

According to a survey from the Idaho State Board of Education, 173,986 devices are needed to provide access to all students currently without a remote learning device, and 12,774 devices are needed for educators. Additionally, 28,056 students and 2,699 educators are without internet access.

“It was a much larger issue than we previously had been talking about,” said Tracie Bent, chief planning and policy officer for SBOE.

Bent said SBOE first sent the survey in mid-May, and it was distributed to all Idaho school districts and charter schools. She said the response rate was higher than normal. Out of 172 school districts and charter schools, only 32 have not responded, and Bent said responses are still trickling in.

SBOE’s previous research found that economic status is one of the biggest factors determining whether students have access to a computer or other learning device, particularly in urban areas, Bent said. But other factors, such as geographic location, also play a part. School districts in rural areas often see more issues with connectivity, she said.

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