SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California is racing to get technology into the hands of kids who need it before distance learning resumes in just a few weeks.
The Department of Education is working with tech partners like Intel to address an estimated shortfall of about 700,000 laptops. Officials say they are also trying to boost connectivity in rural areas and will need approximately 300,000 hotspots in order to meet the needs of every student.
Leaders admit some of the shortages will have to be dealt with through donations.
“The reality is, is that most districts need donations of either equipment or contributions that can be used to purchase the equipment,” State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said in a Zoom meeting Thursday.
The state has allocated an additional $5.3 billion in funding to purchase computers, tablets and supplies for students.
School districts have to apply for a portion of the funds.
Douglas Knepp, president of the West Sacramento Teachers Association, told CBS13 distance learning will continue being a challenge in his district where there aren’t enough computers to go around for every student and many of the ones they do have are outdated.
“Our commitment is to deliver the best quality instruction whatever situation we’re in and we’re going to do our best to do that,” said Knepp. “It’s not just fair to point the finger at districts and say, ‘why don’t you have that technology?’ We need the federal government to step up and send that money to schools.”
Even Elk Grove Unified, a district that did have enough computers to go around, is bracing for a challenge.
“You’re looking at younger grades approximately three hours working synchronously and that’s vastly different than where we were last spring,” said spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton.