MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - How do you start the school year virtually when you don’t have the tools you need?
That was almost the case in Lowndes County, where the school system didn’t have enough computers for its students, and 25 percent of its parents say they don’t have internet access in their home.
“As you know, Lowndes County has been labeled as a hotspot for coronavirus cases,” said Superintendent Jason Burroughs.
Burroughs says the surge in coronavirus cases in Lowndes County is the reason why the school system decided to start the first nine weeks of the school year virtually. But, they had to figure out how to do it with a few computers and with most families not having a computer in the home.
“Children in the same household would have to share devices. We would have to be creative with scheduling so they could share devices at different times. So, we’re blessed to have the CARES Act funding,” said Burroughs.
CARES Act funding will give Lowndes County students a chance to start the year with some much needed technology. They will use their share of $170 million in federal money to purchase enough Chromebooks for each student and set up internet hotspots on school buses throughout the county. Some students will also receive free internet services.
“The virtual or remote learning works if these children can do the work from the comfort and convenience of their own home. So, I’m hopeful parents will be able to get the internet in their own homes,” said Burroughs.
Students will have two virtual platforms to choose from and parents will be included on the virtual plan to make sure they’re prepared for a year unlike anyone imagined.
“Open house is going to be different this year,” Burroughs said. “It will be more focused on how to respond to virtual instruction. "
Burroughs expects the Chromebooks to arrive some time next week. As soon as they get them they will be distributed to students. School is scheduled to start in Lowndes County Aug. 19.