While the stay-at-home restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have closed school campuses, students across Sacramento County are now engaged in distance learning as they complete the 2019–20 school year. Like many students from other school districts, some of the students in Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Special Education Department programs lack computers and internet connectivity, which is hampering their distance learning.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Sacramento Public Library, families began picking up donated computers yesterday. The library has shared 285 surplus computers, which are being distributed to families at SCOE sites throughout Sacramento County. SCOE’s Computer, Network, & Telecommunication Support (CNTS) Department inspected the computers, added keyboards and mice, and prepared instructions for families, explaining how to install antivirus software and create free Microsoft Office and Google Docs accounts. Many families are also receiving cellular internet hotspots.
“We reached out to our families to gauge the need for computers and found the need was significant. Many of them are struggling to connect their children with the internet,” said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. “This really benefits our families, and we are grateful to the Sacramento Public Library for the support.”
“The digital divide in Sacramento is now more acute than ever as schools have shifted to distance learning. Sacramento Public Library has always been committed to increasing access for our community,” said Rivkah Sass, Library Director and CEO. “This is one small way we are supporting students and our partners at SCOE in their path to discover, learn, and grow. In this time of crisis, we have continued to expand our digital offerings—from online storytime and live homework help to hosting Wi-Fi buses and launching new services, such as virtual job coaching.”
The distribution at multiple SCOE program sites is being coordinated to follow social distancing guidelines. Families arrive at scheduled times and drive through school parking lots to receive the computers. The project was initiated by Sacramento County Board of Education Trustee Karina Talamantes, who also sits on the Sacramento Public Library Authority Board.
“Today, having a computer is a necessity for kids, not a luxury,” Talamantes said. “We need to address the digital divide and the inequities our children face, especially those in need. These computers provided by the Sacramento Public Library are essential to helping our kids learn.”