How can Langley students stay connected if they don’t have access to a laptop or home computer? (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley School District assessing how to help students connect to class from home

Telus, Electronic Recycling Association, and Education Ministry all announced new programs to help

As Langley students swiftly shift from classroom learning to online studies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant snag in the increased use of screens is that many low income families won’t be able to give their child access to a connective device.

Students were initially due back to class on Monday, March 30 after a two week spring break – but coronavirus has put an indefinite lock of school hallways – prompting the use of educational programs such as Google Classroom.

Joanne Abshire, communications manager for the Langley School District, said the district is continuing to develop plans to support students and their technology needs.

“We realize there are some families that may not have access to devices and internet. We are working with our education and community partners to ensure that students will be able to continue learning at-home,” Abshire said.

“This week students and their families were sent a survey asking them questions about their health, safety, and technology needs,” she continued. “They were asked if they had tech devices, access to internet, and if they would require online support.”

Abshire added that teachers are also connecting with students to gather information, and get a sense of what their needs are, in order for the school district to develop plans.

“The district acknowledges that meeting technology needs is important, but we want to emphasize that the health and safety of students and staff is our top priority,” Abshire added.

Other schools have taken to different measures, including Credo Christian High School, a private school that sanitized over 100 laptops and Chromebooks for families to pick up and run connective programming on from home.

READ MORE: Staying connected during the extended school break

Within the past week, a bevy of initiatives to make internet access, devices, and staying connected with classes have sprung up to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

B.C.’s Ministry of Education secured and funded licences for the application Zoom for all K-12 public and independent schools in B.C., which will allow consistent access for educators who choose to use it – giving them more ways to communicate with students and parents.

The ministry additionally put together a parent website with resources for them to support learning at home; https://www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning.

Telus is starting a new program to provide free Internet to families who need it as well as refurbished devices to families who need them for continuity of learning through the “Internet for Good” program.

The initiative supports thousands of low-income Canadian families with children under the age of majority currently receiving income assistance under the Employment and Assistance Act or disability assistance under the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act.

People can visit here to check their eligibility and sign up for the service.

The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) also announced a new program after experiencing a massive increase in online donation requests, primarily from families who, before COVID-19, did not own a laptop or a computer and would utilize their local libraries to gain online access for school work.

Through their new program called “Lending a Lifeline by Lending a Laptop,” the ERA is encouraging as many organizations and companies as possible to send a percentage of their unwanted or used electronic devices to the nearest ERA depot.

Bojan Paduh, president of the non profit, said “We are bunkering down and waiting for the crisis to end. We will ship out as many laptops as we can until we run out but eventually, we will run out. We need the help of individuals and companies throughout Canada now more than ever.”

People can find out more at www.electronicrecyclingassociation.ca.

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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