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Why some Richmond students won't start school with computers: 'I deeply apologize'

Posted at 8:08 AM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 19:23:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When school starts virtually on September 8, some Richmond students will not be logging into their first class with a school-issued Chromebook.

"Not everyone who needs a Chromebook will receive one before school starts. I deeply apologize for this," Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras wrote in his latest RPS Direct newsletter.

The district distributed more than 16,000 Chromebooks to students over the spring and summer, and an order for an extra 10,000 computer was made in June.

Kamras wrote that issues with the global supply chain, along with trade tensions with China, have created delays.

The school system currently has around 2,600 Chromebooks available for students, but Kamras said the demand appears to be twice that. He wrote the district has created a stopgap measure until the delayed order arrives:

  1. Prioritize the 2,600 Chromebooks currently on hand for English Learners and students with IEPs.
  2. Give Android Tablets to any other K-12 students who still need a device. These tablets do not have as much functionality as the Chromebooks, but they'll allow students to get online, access Google Classroom, and receive emails from their teachers.
  3. Start Pre-K program completely off technology.

"Once our order of 10,000 Chromebooks arrives (which we now expect by the end of September), we'll give one to every student who initially received a tablet and to every Pre-K student. We'll also begin to distribute them to students who have a non-RPS device at home, as it's ideal for student safety and security to have everyone on an RPS computer," he wrote. "In part because of the challenges I've outlined above, I just shared with our principals that our first week should be as low-stress as possible. The focus should be on building relationships, getting used to the virtual format, and helping students reacclimate to school after nearly six months away. We will not grade assignments and we will not conduct any formal assessments. The goal will be to ratchet down the anxiety for students, families, and staff. We know there will be bumps and we want everyone to have the space and grace to navigate and learn from them with as little angst as possible."

Click here to read the full RPS Direct newsletter