Coronavirus & education: SF students receive laptops, but many still need internet for distance learning

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the coronavirus pandemic keeping schools closed, more families in San Francisco received laptops Wednesday as the school district hopes to begin online learning on Monday.

But the biggest challenge has been providing internet service to families.

RELATED: SFUSD students get Chromebooks on loan to help with distance learning

With a new Chromebook came orders to return them once schools reopen in the fall.

In the meantime, these devices will be a student's entry into a online classroom.

"For Nicholas, he is excited to get that computer and connect to the teacher and his classmates. He is super excited," says Rita Melnykaite, mother of a student in San Francisco.

RELATED: With schools closed, Oakland Unified has no date for students to begin digital learning

San Francisco Unified has distributed 8-thousand devices and is still trying to reach out to families who need them.

"So we're sending phone calls, sending emails, sending texts to let them know where they can pick up a device, how they can get one for their child, Melissa Dodd, Chief Technology Officer of San Francisco Unified School District.

On Monday, when phase three of distance learning begins, teachers warn there will be a few bugs.

Getting a laptop in the hands of families has been a huge undertaking, but the biggest challenge has been providing internet service for all.

RELATED: Students stuck with off-campus apartment leases after schools shut down due to coronavirus

To help bridge that gap, the district has high speed internet companies that are providing either free or low cost service to the neediest families.

The second plan is to place "superspots" in some neighborhoods, which allows for multiple connections at the same time.

1,500 of these hot spots have been given out. 5,000 more have been ordered.

The district says private companies have stepped in to donate or pay for most of this equipment.

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