State helping some schools hit by national laptop shortage

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 18:42:16-04

WATERFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — The national laptop shortage is causing major changes for the start of the school year in the Waterford School District.

Here is what is behind it. COVID-19 caused an increase in demand for laptops as people work and learn virtually. Then, the U.S. put sanctions on Chinese tech companies.

The companies were using people imprisoned simply for their religion or ethnicity for forced labor. Now computer companies in the U.S. can’t get enough parts to meet demand.

“We were notified last Thursday evening we were not going to get a shipment of about 2,000 devices,” said Scott Lindberg, Waterford Schools Superintendent.

Lindberg says the last minute notice came months after the order was placed for devices children and teachers need for virtual learning.

They sent out word to families. They still plan to start school on August 31st, but full school days of virtual learning will have to be temporarily be scrapped. Each household will get one device and students will have 30 minutes of virtual learning at staggered times by grade so siblings can share.

“I don’t know how far behind this is going to make them,” said Nicole Kliewer, a mother of three boys in the Waterford School District.

Kliewer says her family has one laptop, plus the laptop from school for her three sons to use.

“I have no idea how three kids working on two computers is going to work, and it is a modified schedule for now. So really, essentially, we are not getting the proper schooling for them,” she said.

The district says there is a solution in the works. The state bought devices to help close the digital divide and is providing them to districts based on levels of at-risk students. The vendor that has them is working to hopefully get them to Waterford Schools in a couple of weeks.

“I will feel better once I see them and once we have a tracking number, but I think we are going to be ready to go,” said Lindberg.

Superintendent Lindberg says teachers are taking on enormous tasks to make classwork as well as possible in less than ideal circumstances. They are putting together paper packets for the first couple of weeks of school.

“Teachers are the heroes. This is such important work and from the bottom of my heart, we have to provide these opportunities for these kids,” said Lindberg.

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