More than 20,000 computers loaned to students to learn from home – Business in Vancouver

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 6:57 pm

Schools are loaning thousands of computers to families that don't have enough computers for children learning from home. | BC School Trustees Association

Learning from home can be pretty tough to do if students dont have computers or Internet access, which is especially problematic insome remote areas of the province.

The BC Ministry of Education is therefore loaning out 23,000 computers and devices, and arranging for Internet service providers to hook up families with school age children who dont currently have Internet access.

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the modern-day reality that computers and the Internet are not a luxury, but an important utility.

In mid-March, as part of its state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic, all K-12 schools in B.C. were closed. Teachers are expected to try to teach classes remotely.

But some families may have only one home computer, but more than one child, and a surprising number have no computers at all.

School districts discovered that 30% of families they surveyed had either limited or no access at all to technology needed to learn from home computers, tablets, Internet, WIFI.

There were also cases where there was only one computer in the home being used by a parent for full-time work, the Ministry of Education said in a news release.

And some remote communities have no Internet or cell phone access.

School districts have collected 23,000 computers and devices from schools across B.C. to loan to families with school-aged children, have been buying equipment, and deploying their own IT technicians to make sure students are properly hooked up.

In the cases where there is no available Internet or cell phone service in remote communities, classroom materials are being loaded onto flash drives and sent to students.

In some cases, schools are allowing students access to school computer labs, and some First Nations have opened their band offices for students.

"Boards of education know that learning solutions need to be tailored to local community needs, said Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association. These technology loans are one small way boards are working to ensure that the needs of some of our most vulnerable students are met during these uncertain times."

Earlier today, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said some schools might start reopening to in-class learning by mid-May, though on a limited basis.

I absolutely think well have some children back in schools this year but it may be modified, she said.

She said it wont be a blanket return to class, however. Different strategies will likely be implemented, depending on the school district, schools and the needs of students.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv

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More than 20,000 computers loaned to students to learn from home - Business in Vancouver

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