by Alexa Wiker ’23
The Anne Arundel County Public School System is providing resources like Chromebooks, internet access, school supplies, and free meals to support students during virtual learning.
One of the most pressing issues right now during e-learning is student access to technology. With students attending multiple classes a day online through Google Meets, having a computer is necessary to learn this semester. Anne Arundel County Public Schools sent out a Chromebook survey to families back in April of last year to provide a computer to those who needed them. The requests for chromebooks were filled first for people with no devices and for high school seniors who needed a device to graduate.
The school system is even taking it a step further by providing a Chromebook for every single AACPS student, regardless of whether they requested one or not. School officials put on the website, “In the effort to fully engage students in virtual learning this fall, AACPS will be issuing Chromebooks to every student.” Right now, the school system does not have enough computers for everyone, but they hope to supply every student with an AACPS Chromebook by the end of the first marking period.
Wi-fi is another essential component of virtual learning that some students need. While the school system cannot provide internet access to students at home, schools in Anne Arundel County have opened up their Wi-fi signals so students can access them when in close proximity to the building. Another option is Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which is offering low-cost internet service to those who are eligible for public assistance programs like the National School Lunch Program, housing assistance, and SNAP.
Many resources that were provided during in-person school, such as the free lunch program, are still available. There are 127 meal sites around the county where students ages 2-18 can pick up free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no registration required. There are meal sites at most AACPS schools, along with multiple mobile pickup locations across the county. The county’s goal is to provide nutritious meals for any students who need them.
Additionally, every Anne Arundel County Public School student in preK through 5th grade has received a backpack filled with necessary school supplies. These backpacks were supplied before school started in the fall, and contain basic school supplies like notebooks and pencils. The backpacks even have things like recorders and dodgeballs for music and physical education classes. Like always, there were school supply lists provided for middle and high schoolers.
Are these resources enough, or are they maybe even too much? Some students think that this amount of resources is unnecessary. “I don’t think that everyone in the school should receive a Chromebook because a lot of students already have a working computer,” said Molly Vermilye, sophomore. On the other hand, school Chromebooks have proven to be very helpful for some students. “The computer I got from the school makes me feel a lot better about online learning because it’s easy to use and I don’t really have any technology issues with it,” said Lucas Wiker, 8th grader at Severn River Middle School. While it’s true that many students already have computers to use, giving everyone a chromebook would guarantee equal access to virtual learning for all students. Given the unpredictable nature of technology, the best solution here may be to be better safe than sorry.
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