Richmond Schools launch online survey to provide laptops for students amid COVID-19 pandemic

RPS buying laptops for students to use

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras announced Tuesday afternoon the launching of a new online survey for parents to fill out who have children who need the devices and lack access to technology outside of school operations. Kamras says having laptops will help them complete schoolwork while campuses are closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

“We’re just asking the community if you have a child who needs one, doesn’t have one or can’t afford one,” said Kamras. “We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure that our kids have the resources to continue learning.”

RPS plans on distributing the 8,000 devices currently owned by the school system in addition to purchasing between 8,000 to 10,000 laptops for students who don’t have access to online learning resources at home.

Purchasing laptops will cost $3.5 million, which is $350 per laptop, along with the security software and the insurance that comes with it. Kamras says RPS will partially fund the program by reallocating unused funds from transportation and energy costs.

“I want to be clear, we’re not trying to go to a complete virtual school system," Superintendent Jason Kamras said. "This is a stop-gap measure to support families in need during this critical time.”

Kamras says the school system will be using resources from RPS teachers in addition to nationally ranked websites to ensure that students have access to a solid block of instruction every day.

“Starting next week we are going to be launching the next version of our online resources which will include daily lessons," said Kamras.

Kamras says, it’s about equity, which started with the food distribution at 40 sites.

“We should also recognize that it’s 2020 and there are incredible resources online for kids,” Kamras said. "Some that we’re producing but some that the world has produced and we want to make sure that all of our kids, whether they have a little bit of money or a lot of money have access to those resources.”

RPS is raising money for the laptops, however, the School Board needs to approve the transfer.

Kamras says the laptops will be on loan until school reopens and that with the addition of the newly purchased devices, they will have a laptop for nearly every student in the school system.

“The silver lining here is that we’re going to get a lot more closer to a district that has a device for every student,” said Kamras.

RPS plans on using the meal distribution sites to distribute the laptops they hope to start handing out laptops to those who filled out the survey within the next two weeks. To fill out the survey, click HERE.

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