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Four hundred thousand computer devices on order for school districts

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Parent at Clinton school signs out iPad for daughter, 3/23/20

Four hundred thousand devices are ordered for virtual learning at Mississippi schools. The state's school superintendent talks about the need for technology.

Four hundred thousand computer devices will soon be shipped to school districts across Mississippi for virtual learning. They can’t arrive soon enough as school districts reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.



As school districts figure out their plans for reopening, virtual learning will be a key component. Some are relying on remote learning and delaying returning to in-person classes. State Superintendent Carey Wright says when schools closed during the Spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, they found a lot of students don’t have computer devices. She says they did a needs assessment of all the districts in June.

“We got something back from every single district in the state. We asked them ‘do you need devices yes or no? If so how many and what type do you want an Apple product or a Microsoft product,'" said Wright.

Wright says the state board of education approved buying enough devices for every student yesterday. Lawmakers appropriated the money from $1.2 billion in federal CARES Act funds. Wright says WiFi access is also a serious problem.

Tony Elliott, Superintendent of South Tippah School District says they’re purchasing hotspots for teachers who don’t have access and Carey Wright says the devices will operate using WiFi and cellular service. She says they’re expecting shipments to schools districts to begin in late September and continue through November.

"We also opened up our WiFi, so people at our campuses where people can pull in the parking lots and access the school district's WiFi after hours that is something that we've opened up," said Elliott.

All school districts in Mississippi completed a needs assessment to determine how many devices they need according to State Superintendent Carey Wright. She says the technology can be operated by WiFi or cellular enabled.