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Northern California school districts loaning thousands of laptops to families in need this fall

Some school districts loaned upwards of 30,000 Chromebooks for students during the spring semester. This fall, they'll also create internet hotspots, too.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Back-to-school season is in full swing as COVID-19 cases spike across the country. And that means most students will start the school year at home with distance learning.

The California Department of Education recently said 700,000 computers are needed to get all students online. The state plans to provide $5.3 billion for school districts, applying funds first to low-income disadvantaged districts.         

Locally, school districts are trying to provide devices and internet access to every student who needs technological support for the upcoming school year.  

Elk Grove Unified School District

Elk Grove Unified School District will provide Chromebooks to "students who express a need," Xanthi Pinkerton, public information officer for the district, said.

The school district will follow the same process as it did in the spring when they provided 30,000 Chromebooks and 500 internet hotspots to students.

"We still have about 20,000 [Chromebooks] on hand and another 20,000 will be arriving soon," Pinkerton said. "Hot spots only work with district issued Chromebooks. We did hear about difficulty connecting in general in rural areas where there was no broadband or cell service."

Students returning for the fall semester held onto their laptops from the spring semester, Pinkerton added.

San Juan Unified School District

Trent Allen, spokesperson for San Juan Unified School District, said digital devices are a key component for what the district needs to offer students since they'll be distance learning. He said they have 35,000 computing devices in stock, which exceeds the 24,000 they needed to give out in the spring.

"We've differentiated those devices for the fall... our youngest learners will actually be [using] touch devices this year, so that our kindergartners, first graders won't be using the keyboards and the mouses as much," Allen said. 

He added the district is working with families to make sure students have internet access at home.

"We're really working with our families to close that gap. If a family needs help securing service from AT&T, Comcast, Consolidated, we have staff who can help them work through those hurdles," Allen said.

The district is loaning hotspots to families who live in areas where there are no internet providers and for families who may not be able to afford internet access. 

RELATED: Here's a look at plans for reopening from Northern California school districts

Sacramento City Unified School District

The Sacramento City Unified School District says it has enough computers for students who need one. In April, the district said it distributed about 25,000 computers to students. The district's website lists resources for families to get low cost or free access to the interest, wi-fi and utilities.

Stanislaus County

Public schools in Stanislaus County are opening with a distance learning model, according to Judy Boring, public information officer for county's office of education. 

"School Districts are aligning with the statewide requirements (SB98) with a focus on access to devices and connectivity, content aligned to grade level standards equivalent to in-person instruction, daily live interaction with teachers and other students, learning continuity and attendance, special education, and English language development," Boring said.

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