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Lee County schools to distribute Chromebooks to students who need them

The School District of Lee County will be distributing Chromebooks to elementary school students who need a computer for distance learning.

Students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade will be assigned a Chromebook if they don’t have access to a computer at home.

“Nothing replaces face-to-face; nothing replaces hands-on learning,” said Dr. Jeff Spiro, the District’s chief academic officer. “We know this is the best of making out a great scenario that we’re trying to think of every possible resource we can provide our families.”

The district said students who have a sibling in grades six through 12 will not be given a Chromebook, as middle and high school students already have one.

Students in kindergarten through 2nd grade will be able to pick up Chromebooks during the week of March 23.

All schools in Florida will be closed until April 15, and Lee County is among those districts making plans for students to learn from home.

The district said families that choose not to use computer-based learning can pick up 10-day instructional packets at their school during the Chromebook pick-up times.

Spiro did say the District ordered 2,000 more Chromebooks to meet the new demand. He said when families go to pickup a device, they’ll be asked if they have internet. If they don’t, the District said it will help to connect them to extended Wi-Fi areas being provided by companies such as Comcast.

Between the laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots, the bill comes to around $500,000. The money budgeted to pay for it comes form the half cent sales tax fund.

While students are asked to check in daily, school assignments will be due on a weekly basis.

Information on free internet access for low-income families is below.

Qualifying students can sign out a Chromebook from the school they attend on the following dates and times: 

Chromebook Distribution Date Times Grade Level Parents of Students with Last Names Beginning with:
March 19 8am–10am Grade 5 A – M
March 19 10am–12pm Grade 5 N – Z
March 19 1pm–3pm Grade 4 A – M
March 19 3pm-5pm Grade 4 N – Z
March 20 8am–10am Grade 3 A – M
March 20 10am–12pm Grade 3 N – Z
*March 20 1pm–5pm Grades 3 – 5
**March 21 9am–11am Grades 3 – 5

*For families unable to pick up Chromebooks on Thursday
**For families unable to pick up Chromebooks on Thursday or Friday

FREE INTERNET ACCESS

Low-income families in Comcast service areas can receive 60 days of free internet, which includes access to hot spots. This applies to new Comcast customers only.

To get Internet Essentials, go to internetessentials.com or call toll-free 1-855-846-8376. The offer is not available in Comcast stores.

Comcast will send new customers a self-installation kit, which includes a cable modem and Wi-Fi router. There will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.

After 60 days, customers will need to call Comcast to cancel the service or keep it for $9.95 a month.

Qualifications:

  1. Families enrolled in HUD Housing.
  2. Families currently receiving support from these federal programs must provide proof of participation:
    • MEDICAID: copy of card or most recent eligibility letter for an adult in your household (copy of front and back of card required.)
    • Public housing assistance: documentation such as lease, housing assistance payment (HAP) contract, or eligibility documentation from HUD.
    • SNAP: letter indicating you are approved for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
    • TANF: eligibility letter for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
    • SSI: eligibility letter for Supplemental Security Income.
    • NSLP/Head Start: copy of a letter indicating participation in the National School Lunch Program or Head Start, with child’s name, school name, and address of where you are requesting service.
    • LIHEAP: letter confirming eligibility for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
    • WIC: eligibility letter for the Women, Infants, and Children program.
    • VA Pension: pension eligibility determination letter from the Veterans Administration.
    • Tribal assistance: eligibility letter, including TTANF, FDPIR, etc.
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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