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Some Palm Beach County students still need digital devices for distance learning

School District of Palm Beach County says it's receiving 10,000 laptops per week
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Posted at 4:41 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 17:14:27-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Working to overcome the digital divide.

Parents said the second day of distance learning in Palm Beach County on Tuesday went much smoother than Monday, but some students still don't have a laptop or device at home to participate.

Sitting at his dining room table in Royal Palm Beach, Carter Sellari listened to a math lesson on his second day of fourth grade.

But the 10-year-old said he'd rather be in the classroom.

"I'm not as good doing it on a computer like typing because I can write my math facts easier on a pencil and paper," Carter said.

But for now, Carter is learning virtually from home while his mom juggles three kids and new technology.

"We were able to pick up the Chromebook, so it was just part of our text book pickup," said Amanda Sellari.

The School District of Palm Beach County said it has distributed more than 100,000 Chromebooks since last spring, and roughly 60% of students don't have their own device or require one from the district.

The school board has also invested $25 million to buy an additional 82,000 laptops to help bring the district to a one-to-one student-to-device ratio, and to phase out old computers and replace laptops without a camera.

But with the supply chain strained, only 19,000 have been handed out before the first day of school, leaving some siblings sharing a laptop and other families without a device at all.

"If they had to share a device it wouldn't be doable," said Amanda Sellari. "They've both been on the computer all day both days. I don't know how they would be able to do the live lessons."

The school district said it's still receiving 10,000 laptops per week.

Students without a device will be marked absent, but will given the opportunity to make up the work.

The district is reminding families you can also access the lessons with a cell phone, all the lessons are recorded, and students have 24 hours to complete the work.

The district also said if you received a laptop and don't need one to turn it back in.