NewsLocal News


Laptop shortage puts crimp in remote teaching plans for DPS, other districts nationwide

Education commissioner: We have to be flexible
Posted at 12:03 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 07:26:50-04

DENVER — Heavy nationwide demand for laptop computers has led to a shortage, and that's putting a crimp in remote teaching plans all across America.

Lara Hussain, the director of the MyTech program at Denver Public Schools, said DPS was projected to need an additional 15,000 devices earlier this year, and they are still about 3,000 short.

They're getting creative trying to meet that need.

She said they already reached out to all their available suppliers, and were able to purchase 7,600 laptops. Local schools already had 4,200 laptops, she said. That brought the total to about 11,700.

"At this point ... we expect that up to 3,000 students may go into the school year without a device," she said, adding that money wasn't the issue.

School districts all across the country, and around the world, are trying to get laptops too because of the pandemic.

"I meet with my colleagues across the country and all states are seeing a supply chain issue with all the laptops that every single district across our country has tried to purchase," said State Education Commissioner Katy Anthes.

Anthes said every state has districts that are scrambling to find more computers.

"We have to be nimble," she said. "We have to be flexible. If we don't get them, we figure out different ways to be remote, or bring smaller groups of kids in, to do in-person learning."

The shortage is not an issue at KIPP Northeast Denver Middle School, a public charter school.

KIPP Colorado Chief Executive Officer Tomi Amos handed out laptops to returning students Thursday morning.

"We don't want tech to be a barrier to any of our kids, so they all had Chromebooks they were able to take home in the spring," Amos said, adding that the focus this year will be on connectivity. "What we did learn was that reception, and access to connectivity to the internet could be hit or miss, so one of our biggest takeaways, this time around, is making sure we're sending (mobile) hotspots home with kids, so that every kid can get on and access the classes they need."

Gov. Jared Polis said school districts are having an easier time dealing with remote learning this year than they did last spring, when the pandemic first started sweeping across the country.

"School sites are being used as access points for students who don't have that at home, that's very important," Polis said.

DPS is asking students who have district laptops they're no longer using to return them.

The district is also asking good Samaritans who may have a spare chromebook, with a least 4 GB of memory, to consider donating it.

"We will accept those devices and we'd love to hear from you," she said.