CMSD Survey Finds Majority Of Families Lack Computers For Remote Learning

hands on a keyboard
Roughly two-thirds of Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) students don't have access to a computer or similar device at home, the school system's survey found. [Michelle Faust / ideastream]
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Updated: 4:59 p.m., Monday, April 13, 2020

A Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) survey found two-thirds of district’s families do not have a computer, laptop or similar device at home.

CMSD issued the survey Monday to assess need for technological assistance as its 37,700 students take on remote learning. The school system could need as many as 25,000 electronic devices, said Superintendent Eric Gordon.

“While technology creates a divide in Cleveland, we are committed to making sure that it doesn’t separate our kids from other kids who are still engaged in remote learning,” Gordon said.

About 12,000 devices have been identified as available for remote use and are being configured for use off CMSD networks.

“We’ve also been aggressively trying to purchase devices,” Gordon said. “Although as you can imagine, they are very difficult to get, because districts across the country are trying to solve this problem, so there’s a high demand.”

High schools will distribute district devices with drive-up and walk-up lines, Gordon said. Staff will wear masks and gloves and materials will be pre-packed. High school juniors and seniors will have priority, he said, followed by the remainder of high school students, then K-8 students.

The distribution lines will run from April 9-30, with new waves each week. The first tier, high schools, distributed more than 1,100 devices on April 9, and plan to distribute roughly 3,000 more the week of April 13.

The next tier, covering K-8 schools, will distribute around 3,700 devices the week of April 13, and all remaining K-8 schools will distribute just under 7,000 devices the week of April 20.

Students and families receiving the aid will be informed by their schools through email or phone messaging to visit their area's high school to pick up the devices.

The timeline for distributing additional technology to any remaining schools or students has not yet been determined, the district said.

The survey also found roughly one-third of CMSD families do not have access to reliable high-speed internet, Gordon said, underscoring the need for more Wi-Fi hotspots.

The district is pursuing other forms of at-home learning that don’t rely on internet access, Gordon said, including mailing worksheets to students and phone calls from teachers.

CMSD is still waiting for additional survey responses.

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