SCS to provide internet, laptops and tablets for all students

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Internet, laptops and tablets will be given to every Shelby County Schools student after a historic vote from the school board on Monday night.

SCS announced the historic decision on Twitter.

During a special online meeting on Monday night, the district vote on a $45 million plan that would give every student the proper materials to learn from home if schools are forced to remain closed because of COVID-19.

This plan includes providing internet for families who need it.

“We cannot delay the inevitable,” SCS Board Member Michelle McKissack said. “This is the future of our society as a whole and not just for this district.”

According to SCS, devices will be given to families during the first three months of the school year, starting with high school students. However, they are prepared to accelerate the process if campuses are forced to remain closed.

The success of the plan will depend on how well students grow while using the technology.

“Developing a robust plan that provides digital access for all students will help us continue to move the academic needle forward — making certain all students are prepared for learning whether they are within or outside school walls,” SCS Board Chairperson Miska Clay Bibbs said in a press release.

Back in May, Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray suggested the district use 75% of its CARES Act funds to purchase digital devices, saying it is an important factor in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to have the luxury of phasing it in year by year but COVID-19 doesn’t provide us with that luxury,” Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said. “We have to do something now.”

Some students and their families live in poverty across the area which could lead to some issues with the new technology but one board member does not believe it will be a hard obstacle to overcome.

“While we do have families in poverty, we have families that are tech-savy,” SCS Board Member Kevin Woods said. “We have families that know how to use devices so I don’t think that learning curve will be as high as we think.”

Two board members were slight skeptical of the idea.

“Doctor Ray, I hope it’s very successful and we get the desired results because I think that you’re putting your name and reputation on the line here,” SCS Board Member William Orgel said.

Board Member Scott McCormick was the only member to vote ‘no’ on the plan. He says he likes the idea but feels this current plan was rushed.

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