distance learning

Tech Shortage in California Schools as New Academic Year Approaches: Survey

NBC Universal, Inc.

School districts across California need hundreds of thousands of computers and Wi-Fi hotspots as the state's students prepare to start the new school year via full-time distance learning, according to a survey conducted by the state Department of Education.

The need for 700,000 laptops and tablets along with about 300,000 hot spots comes with a hefty $500 million price tag. The supply chain is another issue.

But, there is some good news in the Bay Area. In Oakland, 25,000 Chromebooks are on order and due to arrive in early August for Oakland Unified students.

Through a public–private partnership called Oakland Undivided, work is underway to also provide students with internet access and tech support.

In the South Bay, leaders from Santa Clara County and the city of San Jose are boosting spending to close the digital divide that emerged as a major issue when learning shifted online at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring.

"The city of San Jose is going to be investing $24 million to build infrastructure for online learning … and the county has invested $7.1 million for devices," said Omar Torres, a spokesman for City Councilwoman Magdelena Carrasco.

Silicon Valley tech companies such as Google and Twitter have made significant monetary donations to local schools, and now it's just a matter of if the students get what they need when the classes start next month.

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