Courses and virtual learning at Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES schools will get a boost thanks to a USDA grant announced Thursday, Oct. 16.
Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, announced the $683,692 award from the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program at USDA Rural Development.
This grant funding will be used to supplement a nearly 30-year program run through the ONC Board of Cooperative Educational Services that help students in rural areas access college-level courses, according to a media release announcing the funding.
The funds will be used to provide STEM courses with “more rigorous curriculum” to public schools in the ONC BOCES network within Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, Madison, and Chenango counties. The money will be used to replace the hardware for video conference services that allow rural schools to share teaching resources and reach students in remote areas, according the release. The new equipment will also allow the organization to provide virtual training sessions in opioid addiction and overdose prevention for community members, school staff and emergency personnel.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need for federal investments in rural broadband focused on closing the digital divide and ensuring our young people have educational opportunities,” Delgado said in the release. “I will continue to champion initiatives at the federal level that invest in broadband infrastructure and increase access to high-speed internet. I look forward to visiting the ONC BOCES facilities soon and seeing this new equipment in use.”