The University of Puerto Rico will distribute a total of $40.5 million in technological equipment and financial incentives to professors, students and administrative staff as part of its plan to improve the online educational experience and support the university community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UPR President Jorge Haddock said the aid will be granted through a second round of federal funds, under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act.
With the funding, the university system will provide students and employees with financial need, laptops, tablets, Internet connection equipment, microphones and cameras to maximize learning through online technology.
Puerto Rico’s public university received a total of $81.1 million, of which $40.5 were destined as financial aid for students, Haddock said. The aid was awarded directly to the campuses, so each unit developed its individual plan to meet the particular needs of its community.
As part of the established plans, the units will provide equipment and materials so that teachers, students and administrative staff can achieve their goals during the academic year, using technological tools, he said.
Given that plans are specific to the 11 campuses, the aid that employees and students will receive varies, according to the specific, previously identified needs.
“With this aid we seek to encourage and support our professors, who have made a great effort to ensure academic continuity. We appreciate the outstanding work they have done. We have instructed all units to provide support and incentives to teaching staff with this second phase of CARES funds,” Haddock said.
“The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has changed the social context in which we develop and has generated new challenges for all the members of our university community, for which we continue to develop, with empathy and commitment, initiatives to support them in their daily efforts to achieve their professional and educational goals,” said Haddock, who explained that some campuses have begun to distribute aid, while others are in the process of buying tech equipment.
Some of the funding will be reserved for professors to develop online courses, while new students will receive a stipend based on their financial need and federal regulations.