Apple and T-Mobile team to offer up to 1 million discount iPads for distance learning in California

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) is collaborating closely with Apple and T-Mobile to connect up to 1 million students in need as most schools across California expect to begin the next school year in distance learning due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Apple and T-Mobile team to offer up to 1 million discount iPads for distance learning in California
Apple and T-Mobile team to offer up to 1 million discount iPads for distance learning in California

At a time when schools have experienced a shortage of available computing devices, the two companies are teaming up with the state to facilitate technological access that currently prevents hundreds of thousands of students from connecting with their teachers, peers, and school communities. Apple and T-Mobile will fulfill orders from districts — which could reach up to 1 million students — with discounted iPads already equipped with high-speed internet connectivity.

iPad with cellular offers a powerful and portable solution for schools that will keep students engaged in learning from anywhere. Apple’s Professional Learning team is dedicated to supporting educators and will be providing weekly virtual training sessions for California teachers, offering creative strategies for learning remotely. Apple also offers one-to-one virtual coaching sessions and teachers can gain foundational technology skills through the Apple Teacher Learning Center, available at no cost. Since March, Apple has led more than 150 thousand educator coaching sessions worldwide.

“At Apple, we believe technology has the power to transform the learning experience for students at all levels,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Markets, Apps, and Services, in a statement. “We are proud the State of California has chosen iPad to facilitate remote learning, and during these challenging times we look forward to working with administrators and school districts across the state to help make learning more accessible for their students.”

In response to the pandemic, T-Mobile has accelerated its efforts to help close the digital divide and enable families and schools to embrace remote learning, connecting hundreds of thousands of kids for virtual learning in over 300 school districts nationwide, even before this landmark collaboration with the State of California.

“Education is the great leveler in our society but only if everyone can access it. The pandemic has exposed just how widespread and detrimental the digital divide really is for millions of children in this country. At T-Mobile, we’re committed to doing something about it, and we’re incredibly proud to partner with Apple to help the State of California connect up to a million students when they need it most,” said Mike Katz, EVP of T-Mobile for Business, in a statement.

Under the arrangement, T-Mobile will provide discounted service and Apple is offering special pricing for iPad + cellular, which has been available to schools on top of its education volume pricing, to enable all learners during this time.

The CDE will provide instructions to school districts to submit orders to Apple and T-Mobile. At least 100,000 devices can be ready to arrive through the back to school time frame, according to Apple and T-Mobile. The companies expect to be able to fulfill school district demand through the end of 2020.

School district leaders will have the opportunity to learn more about pricing options, ordering procedures, and timelines for deliveries during a special webinar of the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force at 11 a.m. today. The webinar will be broadcast live on CDE’s Facebook page and school district leadership teams can register on Zoom at

Source: California Department of Education

MacDailyNews Take: More Apple iPads in more hands can only be a good thing for Apple and those students, some of whom will be new-to-Apple and, after using their iPads, will go on to become Apple customers for life!


  1. But will it put even a small dent in Chromebook sales to schools? Schools simply love Chromebooks for their low prices and Google support. I wonder what children growing up using Chromebooks will choose as a computer platform when they become adults. Windows?


    Shool closures cause significant damage to children—damage that videoconferences cannot repair. In Boston, the city reported last spring that more than one in five public school children who participated in virtual learning dropped out. Low-income children, in particular, are less likely to have high-speed internet access at home and often lack the extracurricular educational opportunities that wealthier parents can provide. School closures also increase food insecurity, because 30 million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.

    Children may be increasingly physically insecure as well. In a paper published this May in the online social-science journal SSRN, researchers found that Covid-19 school closures have led to a 27% decline in reports of child abuse. Because school personnel are often the first people to notice maltreatment, a decline in reported cases is possibly a sign that more child abuse is going undetected.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has succinctly and forcefully summarized the case for reopening: “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.”

    Nor are children the only ones adversely affected by school closures. According to the Pew Research Center, in June, the unemployment rate for women was 20% higher than for men, in part because of their much higher level of participation in the education sector. And many mothers have been forced out of the workforce due to their inability to find child care.

    Fortunately, while the harm caused by school closures is obvious, the risk to children of severe Covid-19 illness or death is very low. While there are 45 million children in prekindergarten, kindergarten, elementary or middle school, as of July 29, only 28 Americans ages 1–15 have died of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though 28 is not zero, it is a number worth putting in context. For example, in 2016, 190 children ages 1–14 died of influenza or pneumonia, 625 died of homicide, 1,257 died of cancer and 2,895 died of unintentional injuries like car accidents, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

    The most important question for school reopenings, then, is not the risk to children from Covid-19 but rather the risk to adults—parents, teachers and school staff. Every parent and teacher has had the experience of catching whatever bug was circulating among their children in school. Could the same be true of the novel coronavirus?

    Here we can learn a great deal from the experience of other industrialized countries. Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Germany, Finland, France and Sweden reopened schools in April and May, and their experience has been largely positive. Every European country that reopened schools in the spring plans to start the fall school year on time.

    These countries have taken several different approaches to reopening. Denmark, the first country to reopen schools, announced its plan on April 6, just as Covid-19 cases were peaking there and elsewhere in Europe. Kindergartens and elementary schools reopened the following week in order to help working parents; children over 12 followed a month later. The Netherlands announced its plan in mid-April and also took a staggered approach when it began opening in May. Germany had similar timing but started with older students, on the premise that adolescents would be more likely to adhere to distancing and hand-washing guidelines. Sweden has kept its schools open throughout the pandemic for those under 16 and reopened high schools and colleges in mid-June.

    The results, thus far, have been pretty consistent across these countries. Denmark trod carefully, requiring children to stay 2 meters apart wherever possible. Children were grouped into “bubbles” of 12 and were required to wash their hands every two hours but not to wear masks. It worked. Denmark’s case and mortality counts continued to decline after reopening schools, according to data from the European CDC, leading Peter Andersen of the Danish Serum Institute to conclude that “you cannot see any negative effects from the reopening of schools.”

    Sweden, famously, has taken a unique approach to the pandemic, barring large gatherings but keeping its businesses and schools open, without strict distancing and mask requirements. Finland took a more conventional approach to lockdowns. Yet a study by Swedish and Finnish health authorities found nearly identical infection rates of 5 per 10,000 in children ages 1–19. Surveying the broad experience in their countries, the health authorities concluded that “Finland has not shown children to be contributing much in terms of transmission” to adults, and in Sweden there was “no increased risk for teachers.”Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and the co-author (with Dan Lips, Preston Cooper, Lanhee Chen and Bob Kocher) of the foundation’s report, “Reopening America’s Schools and Colleges During Covid-19.,” The Wall Street Journal, August 7,2020


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