Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther today announced the city will use federal CARES Act funding to ensure that every Columbus City Schools student has a Chromebook for virtual learning.
Superintendent Talisa Dixon says the devices will help students at a time when technology has become essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our students will not have to share devices," Dixon continued. "They will not have to wonder if they will connect to their teachers. They don't have to even go to a parking lot of a building just to try to use a device. This is so important. You have helped us close this gap. 20,000 more students are going to have their device because of you, and we are so appreciative. This is a true partnership, when the city can wrap its arms around the school district and say we are in this together."
In May, Columbus received $157 million in CARES Act funding to help absorb costs related to the pandemic. The city will use $7 million of those dollars for this effort in legislation Columbus City Council will consider on Monday.
"No matter how this school year looks, our students simply must have these basic technology tools to help them access online instruction," Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown said. "Technology on its own cannot overcome many of the obstacles our students face as they learn and grow. We know that. But without it, they have nowhere to begin. In a moment of American life when brave voices have amplified a generational conversation about racial equity and justice, we must remember that education is a cornerstone of that work."
District officials say they are still finalizing a plan to disperse the Chromebooks to students, but the process will resemble the district's device rollout earlier this spring when the governor ordered schools closed. The district's current plan calls for online-only education for high school students for at least the first two quarters of the year. They can work with CCS teachers online or opt for a self-guided program called Columbus Digital Academy. The district's K-8 students will have the choice of attending the virtual academy, or opting for a blended approach of two days in the classroom and three days online.