Student tech funds flow into accounts
TAHLEQUAH – Millions of dollars worth of student technology funds have been electronically transferred to Cherokee families, tribal leaders said on Aug. 27.
Prompted by distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cherokee Nation offered students $400 for technology needs such as laptops, Wi-Fi, specialized software or related items.
“So far we’ve had 20,000 people respond and accept those payments for processing within the first 24 hours,” CN Chief of Staff Todd Enlow said Aug. 27. “That means that we transmitted somewhere around $15.5 million to $16 million within the first 24 hours, and it should be in anybody’s account that accepted that payment.”
Enlow added that approximately 10,000 student applications are pending further review.
“We have been on the phone, text messages and email constantly,” he said. “It is non-stop constant.”
Between 75-80 payments were rejected by banks, Enlow said, while another 104 grant recipients opted out of an electronic transfer and will receive paper checks.
Some pending applications have been disputed, Enlow said.
“We were very specific and very clear on the application that when you were submitting, you were stating that you were in fact the legal parent or guardian of the child,” he said. “We’ve already had several cases of disputes of parents or step-parents claiming children, and we’re going to have to resolve those on a case-by-case basis.”
Cherokee students age 5-18, regardless of income or location, were eligible to apply for the grant. The benefits are part of the CN’s $40 million Respond, Recover and Rebuild Education Initiative that utilizes federal funding.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students spent their final months of the 2019-20 school year distance learning. Fall classes at Sequoyah High School and the Cherokee Immersion School began Aug. 24.
The high school’s combination of traditional and virtual instruction will ensure there is “no more than 25% of students in the building at any one time to protect against the spread of COVID-19,” states a CN news release.
Freshmen students attend on Mondays, sophomores on Tuesdays, juniors on Wednesdays and seniors on Thursdays. Students will all use distance learning on Fridays and all other days that are not in their scheduled rotation, according to the CN.
Students were also allowed to choose an all-virtual option. Immersion students started school via distance learning at home.
For questions regarding the technology grants, call 918-453-5088 or email email@example.com