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New Brunswick to subsidize personal electronic devices for high school learning

The New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development announced a $7 million subsidy for high school students that do not currently own laptops, as they will need them in school in September. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison

As the province moves towards a more tech-based learning model, high school students will be expected to use their own electronic devices for learning in September, and New Brunswick will be providing financial aid to those without laptops.

“This model will help support blended learning and the continuity of learning of high school students in the immediate future, while also addressing long-standing issues,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy, in a news release.

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To ensure all families have equitable access to these devices, the province is investing $7 million in financial aid.

The subsidy will be available for students from low-income or middle-income families who do not own a device, usually a laptop.

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“Our goal is to position every student for success by preparing them for long-term success in their education and in the workplace while also ensuring more equitable and consistent access to technology,” Cardy said in the release.

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According to the release, households with an annual income of up to $40,000 will receive a voucher of $600 per student.

Those with an annual income between $40,000 and $55,000 will receive a maximum voucher of $400 for their first student and $600 for each additional student.

Those who earn between $55,000 and $70,000 will receive a maximum voucher of $200 for the first student, $400 for the second student and $600 for each additional student, the release says.

Households with an annual income between $70,000 and $85,000 will not receive aid for the first student, but will receive a maximum voucher of $200 for the second student, $400 for the third student and $600 for each additional student.

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Families who qualify can apply online starting July 31, through the Parent Portal.

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New Brunswick is also investing $5 million in infrastructure to support the need for digital collaboration, including increased access points in schools and upgrades to school firewalls and bandwidth, according to the release.

It says the main platform used in the classroom will be Microsoft Teams, which students and teachers can access through Office 365 accounts.

Some teachers can choose to use platforms Brightspace in the anglophone sector, or Clic in the francophone sector.

“Providing students with options for a more personalized learning experience that meets their needs strengthens an important element of building a world-class education system,” said Cardy in the release.

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