PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY

Prince George's Schools Hand Out Laptops, Offer Internet to Bridge Digital Divide

There will be internet access in homes and school parking lots, and school officials are urging businesses and nonprofits to open up their internet for students to use

Parents wait in line during Montgomery County Chromebook distribution
Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

With schools closed because of the coronavirus crisis, many of Prince George’s County Public Schools’ 136,000 students are facing “extraordinary hurdles” in continuing their education, the district said.

Families without access to computers or internet at home can pick up a laptop computer and arrange internet service with help from the district starting Wednesday.  

Chromebook distribution will be held Wednesday through Friday at students’ boundary schools, in the parking lots from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the district said. Families are instructed to bring a parent's ID, a student's report card and a pen.

Prince George's County

News4's Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports.

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If there is bad weather, check the PGCPS website and PGCPS-TV (Verizon 38/Xfinity 96) for a new distribution date.

“Today, we are embarking on a new phase of teaching and learning through technology,” schools CEO Monica Goldson said in a statement. “Many of our families and students have access to internet services to complete assignments online, while for others, this may be a completely new experience. This shift to online learning is a necessity for the safety of our community and will continue to ensure students have access to high-quality education.”

In total, the district will spend $2 million to get students connected to their virtual classrooms. PGCPS is partnering with Verizon and Comcast to establish internet connections in or near students' homes.

PGCPS will turn on WiFi access points at several schools throughout the county to allow students and staff to connect from the parking lots, starting Tuesday, April 14.

The school system is encouraging local businesses, nonprofits and churches to help. By opening up the internet at local facilities, the community can create free wireless hotspots around the county to ensure students can continue learning despite the quarantine.

PGCPS is seeking donations to assist with the shift to online learning. Sam Brin, a former PGCPS student and brother of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, donated $100,000 to establish internet connections in students’ homes through the end of the school year, the district said. 

All donations and contributions can be made to the Connect PGCPS Fund through the Excellence in Education Foundation for PGCPS.

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