NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — At Wednesday night’s McLean County Unit 5 Board of Education meeting, the board approved the purchase of 3,500 Dell Chromebooks for students to use.

District CFO Martin Hickman said the $1.1 million purchase is being funded entirely through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Grant, which Congress authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The district applied for the grant and was accepted.

Hickman said during COVID-19 shutdowns, leaders with the district quickly learned that connectivity is important for students, and says these Chromebooks will continue to be important for district students into the future.

“It’s extremely important, not only with what we’ve had the last couple years with the pandemic, but you know, now we’re also able to, kindergarten through 12th grade, you know on snow days, in the event we have bad weather, they can still be connected on those days as well, so it’ll be something that’ll be utilized way past when this pandemic is finally over,” said Hickman.

He added that this purchase will refresh the devices they have at the high school level, and ensure they continue to have good working technology for students.