District : Ector County Independent School District
State : Texas
Level : P-12
Community Type : Rural
Related Tags : Digital Equity
Case Study: Community Partnerships in Ector County Independent School District
For Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) in rural West Texas, community partnerships have been integral to connecting learners, families/caregivers, and the community to affordable and available broadband. The beginning of the pandemic revealed that 39 percent of learners lacked either available or affordable broadband in their homes. In response, ECISD developed a series of partnerships for a variety of short-term solutions for learners and families. From there, a local task force, including the school district, nonprofit organizations, local government entities, and business leaders, was formed to evaluate the challenges associated with internet connectivity and develop a county-wide plan for broadband. At first, the conversation centered around learners disconnected from school due to the sudden pivot to remote learning and the large number of children living in unconnected or under-connected areas of Ector County. The task force realized there was a bigger need for connectivity, specifically thinking about access in a way that the entire community can benefit, and improving services like tele-health options, and economic development opportunities, among other applications. This framing has invited more community members to actively engage and work on creating short term solutions, while brainstorming permanent ones that can solve the challenge of connectivity for all of Ector County.