The city of Columbus, Ohio, is giving the Columbus school district more than $7 million in federal funds to buy 20,000 Chromebooks so that students can take classes from home.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that money is coming out of the $157 million in federal CARES Act funding the city received to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The 50,000-student Columbus school district already had distributed more than 20,000 Chromebook laptops and more than 1,000 wireless hot-spot devices by early June. Many Columbus families don’t have the resources to acquire their own devices.
Columbus Public Health Commissioner Mysheika Roberts is recommending that city schools stay closed to in-person learning until there are four consecutive weeks of downward trends in cases.
The plan for now is for classes to restart on Sept. 8, and have students in grades K-8 go to class two days a week and learn from home three days a week; high school classes would be completely online.
The district’s teachers union has called for the 2020-21 school year to start entirely online.
A recent report that the Columbus Foundation commissioned found that more than 30% of households in some Columbus neighborhoods don’t have broadband access.
Superintendent Talisa Dixon says the new Chromebooks help close the gap.