Thousands of Students Receiving Laptops to Begin Distance Learning

Thousands of Students Receiving Laptops to Begin Distance Learning

Press Release

San Francisco (April 1, 2020) - In preparation for providing all students with a comprehensive distance learning program by mid-April, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has already distributed over 5,200 devices to students in grades 3-12 who need access to technology to support continued learning at home while schools are closed –– and estimates it may need to distribute another 5,000 devices over the next week.

“As we transition to an extended period of learning outside the classroom, we need to ensure that as a district we are able to serve all of our students,” said SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of our donors, our volunteers and our staff who are working to serve our children and youth furthest from opportunity during these unprecedented times.”

Since closing schools on March 16, SFUSD has been rapidly implementing a phased in plan to provide equitable learning opportunities for each and every student for as long as schools remain closed. Teachers are preparing both non-digital and digital learning options for distance learning to begin for all students districtwide on April 13. 

For the first few weeks of closures, the district shared home learning resources that included PK-12 grade level materials across a variety of subjects with added support for English learners, students with disabilities, and diverse populations. Students have also been provided with instructions for accessing Google classroom and other district-approved digital learning resources, along with guidance on engaging with peers and teachers to create meaningful learning experiences.

Prior to April 13, SFUSD will be distributing books and other print materials in preparation for distance learning for K-2 students. SFUSD is also exploring lending devices to students in grades K-2 if the technology needs of students in grades 3-12 have been met.

More than 754 individual donations have been made to SFUSD’s nonprofit partner Spark* SF Public Schools to support meals and distance learning, including a $2 million donation from private equity firm Thoma Bravo. The emergency funds generated in the past several weeks have contributed significantly to purchasing devices and WiFi hotspots to enable students to continue learning during school closures. 

SFUSD staff, volunteers, and community partners such as HopeSF, the EdFund, and Circle the Schools have been working to assemble and distribute Chromebook laptops and chargers at distribution sites. SFUSD staff are continuing community outreach to identify and address the technology needs of students and families.

If a student needs to borrow a device, they should contact their school site principal to learn how their school is making devices available. Students or families who aren’t able to contact their child’s principal can fill out a Distance Learning Device Request form to request a device. 

Spark* SF Public Schools continues to seek donations to support SFUSD in delivering distance learning to a diverse student population. SFUSD estimates that up to 10,000 students need devices and 5,000 need WiFi access. 

Donate here to support the district’s services to students during the extended school closures. 

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