CHICAGO (CBS) — Spring break is over for the more than 350,000 Chicago public school students.
They’re supposed to be back to learning from home. Yet thousands of students without internet access and a computer have no way to step inside these coronavirus classrooms.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves has a reality check on virtual schools.
New numbers show Chicago Public Schools staff still have a lot of students to reach amid the coronavirus closures. But for the ones who do have technology for remote learning, it’s not that simple.
On Monday, Nicole Linarez worked from home and took on the role of teacher.
“It’s frustrating,” Linarez said. Two of her children attend Robert Richardson Middle School on the southwest side.
She fears one is being left behind.
“For the sixth grader, I’m doing a lot more than I have to with the seventh grader. Like, today was math day, so math is not my strong suit at all,” Linarez said.
Roadblocks for the mother of five, even with the access to vital technology for new remote learning.
“My husband brought a laptop home from work,” Linarez said.
So imagine not having a laptop or tablet.
On Monday, CPS said about 11,000 devices have been handed out, but 60,000 need to go out this week. The goal is hand out more than 100,000 remote learning electronics.
Priority to students who get meal assistance or have temporary housing.
Right now, teachers have lesson plans and even detailed schedules online. Learning packets are also on the district’s website. But on the flip side, some of those teachers are racing to reach students.
A South Side CPS high school teacher who did not want to be identified said her own research around the community found a big gap in the digital divide for students.
“I counted up and I have about a quarter of my students who have logged into Google Classroom,” she said. “But I don’t know who has technology and who doesn’t. There’s a lot of variation in our district and I hope that this is actually an opportunity for us to sort of even the playing field so to speak.”
The district said e-learning will only count toward improving grades. Any incomplete assignments made up after schools are expected to open at the end of the month.
How are other districts handling this issue?
Students in Naperville and other districts already provided computers to all students. Aurora distributed 7,000 laptops to students about a month ago.
Schools in Gary, Indiana begin handing out computers on Tuesday.