Some in Richmond County are out of luck on laptops for students

Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 3:17 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Several thousand Richmond County students have been approved to get a laptop or internet device from the school district. But for the families who requested those devices after Aug. 3, they weren’t so lucky.

Eighteen thousand students in Richmond County have signed up to partake in the district’s online academy. Thirteen thousand of them asked the district to loan them computers.

“I have a laptop,” Richmond County parent Laena Stokes said. “The problem is, I also have a college student that is here. His campus is closed, so according to the rules for the virtual learning, my daughter would have to be on at a certain period at the same time that my son would have to be on a certain period.”

Any parents who requested devices during the first and second application wave were awarded them. But for the more than 1,800 parents who requested devices during the late application period -- they’re out of luck.

“I actually tried to register during the first period -- the initial period, but the website was so loaded that I could never get the confirmation,” Stokes said.

The district sent an email to parents who weren’t given laptops. It says, “If you are able to access a device and internet connectivity, and you wish for your child to remain enrolled in the online academy, you do not need to do anything additional.”

Otherwise, parents like Stokes had two days to choose whether to withdraw their child from the online academy.

“I’m going to purchase another laptop,” Stokes said. “Just gonna have to. I just didn’t think that it would be safe enough to send her to school.”

It’s an added expense Stokes is going to have to dole out for this upcoming school year.

“That’s why I work,” Stokes joked.

But for parents who can’t get another laptop or internet connectivity, it seems their only choice is to send their child for face-to-face instruction.

Richmond County will be distributing devices throughout the week. In total, the district distributed 688 devices for high schoolers Monday.

Also, some of the students who were initially rewarded devices aren’t coming to get them. So if the district has extras left over after the distribution, it will start distributing them to families who didn’t receive them.

State assistance

The Georgia Department of Education is working with school districts to provide assistance.

Officials say $6 million will be given to districts to help with the cost of electronics and Wi-Fi connections.

The state is also sending Wi-Fi equipment. 

Still, officials say some districts might not be able to provide a device to every student who needs one.

They say schools should prioritize low-income students and those who are medically fragile.

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