Coronavirus News: New Jersey school district pleads for laptops for students

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Paterson School District is pleading for help in buying thousands of laptops for students who have so far been unable to access online learning and are at risk of falling behind.

The district has already redirected money from after school programs to purchase 7,000 laptops for students, but officials say they still need 15,000 more.

Some computers were handed to students at Eastside High School for the first time Friday.

The majority of students do not have computers at home and have been doing their distance learning by hand, using paper and pencil.

Students are given a packet that covers 10 days worth of classes.

Once finished, parents or students drop the papers off.

The packets are then organized by volunteers at the board of education building.

Finally, a company uploads the papers online so that teachers can access them and check students' work.

As learning has moved online amid the deadly coronavirus, the reliance on internet-based education has shed a light on a digital divide - something that experts have long flagged as an endemic problem at the core of the so-called "achievement gap" between more affluent students and their less affluent peers.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 14% of school-aged children in metropolitan centers and 18% in more non-metropolitan areas live in households without internet access.

The report also found that lack of internet access impacts many minority students more acutely.

Some 37% of American Indian/Alaska Native children, 19% of Black children and 17% of Hispanic children lack internet access in their homes compared to 12% for Asian and White children respectively.

Anyone who wants to help put Chromebooks in the hands of Paterson Public Schools students can make a tax-deductible donation to Paterson Public Schools.

For more information, CLICK HERE or call the Superintendent's Office at 973-321-0980

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