Networkmaine, collaborating with the Maine Department of Education, continues to be successful in upgrading network connections at K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Maine School and Library Network (MSLN) project.
Remote learning and hybrid schedules have driven the need for additional bandwidth at schools, especially at the lower grade levels. Most school districts are using some form of hybrid learning where half of the student body is in the classroom and the other half participate remotely (a model necessitated by social distancing rules). Internet connections at approximately 301 K-12 schools are or will receive upgrades soon.
According to Jeff Letourneau, executive director of Networkmaine, COVID’s effects on education systems in Maine and throughout the country are well-documented. He also added that many schools in the state have been connected at 100 Mbps or lower as their previous use of the internet didn’t demand any more than that amount.
“The heavy usage of video conferencing has dramatically increased bandwidth consumption at schools, necessitating the upgrades to gigabit speeds,” explained Letourneau. “As an example of the increased dependency on remote-learning, even with many schools using Google Meet, subscriptions to our Zoom offering have gone from less than 150 prior to the pandemic to over 2,100 as of today.”
Through MaineREN, Networkmaine provides Internet access, email, web hosting, and other technology services to almost 1,000 K-12 schools and libraries across the state. The MSLN Gigabit Upgrade project started in November 2019 with all upgrades to schools scheduled for completion this spring.
“NetworkMaine does a fantastic job supporting Internet access for Maine’s schools,” added Vince Vanier, technology coordinator for the Madawaska School Department. “We would be in a world of hurt without it.”
Networkmaine was able to leverage E-Rate funding to bring bandwidth relief to Maine’s K-12 schools.