Greater Trail nonprofits are funding Chromebooks for low income high school students. Photo: Unsplash

Kootenay Columbia counsellor aims to supply 100 Chromebooks for low income students

COVID has widened the gap between students who struggle with financial hardship and those who don't

Loretta Jones, a counsellor at the Trail high school, has been working since May to come up with funding to buy Chromebooks for low income students.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our students who struggle with financial hardship,” she said. “With the explosion of online learning, increased absenteeism due to possible infection and immune-compromised families, the use of a digital device has become of paramount importance.”

To date, the school has received donations toward the purchase of Chromebooks through Skool Aid, the Murphy Family Foundation (Trail Smoke Eaters owners), and from Area A and Area B directors Ali Grieve and Linda Worley.

“Our teachers have found that the gap between the ‘have’ and the ‘have not’ students was really emphasized and widened by the COVID crisis and online learning in the spring,” Jones explained.

“This continues to be a problem this fall for these families that have been impacted financially and also just by the new education style.”

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Nearly every teacher uses Google Classroom now, or another digital platform. This enables students to stay caught up with all the learning in case they need to stay home due to sickness, anxiety, or having a family member with co-morbidities.

“Even homework and regular school assignments are being completed this way to reduce touch points,” Jones explained. “Students can hand in assignments electronically through Google Classroom. It really is a pretty fantastic platform for education.”

She has secured funding for 70 Chromebooks and has applied to another nonprofit to try to secure money to buy 30 more. Jones is hopeful that the school will be able to give 100 Chromebooks to 100 low-income teenagers enrolled in grades 8 through 12.

“I am trying to ensure that all students can participate in their schooling from a level playing field,” said Jones. “Every student should have access to the same resources when possible, and having a Chromebook, which is a type of a laptop, ensures this with regards to technology.”

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