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Media Coverage | Pittsburgh Tech Community Gets Laptops to Students

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By Joe Destio | Newsradio 1020 KDKA | April 7, 2020 | Read the full article

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – When remote learning in the Pittsburgh Public Schools starts April 16, Vanessa Buffry with the group Neighborhood Allies says too many kids will be left offline. That’s why her organization and the Pittsburgh Technology Council reached out to tech firms, foundations and others to help.

“The Pittsburgh Public Schools in their most recent results was looking at a need of about 7,500 laptops just for them alone,” said Buffry.

Companies like Aurora, Google, and others have stepped up with $200,000 dollars to buy and refurbish laptops.

Aurora’s Gerardo Interiano said in a statement, “As we build and develop self-driving technology here in the community, we want to ensure that students throughout the city have access to the educational resources that will allow them to one day join us in solving the problems of tomorrow.”

Contributing to the effort are Verizon, R.K. Mellon Foundation, Heinz Endowment, Pitt, and the Gismondi Family Foundation among others.

A just completed survey of PPS families shows several thousand students without access to an individual laptop and some without an internet connection. Superintendent Anthony Hamlet says that’s why teachers have also been preparing paper lessons and will have telephone office hours for students.

“Moving 23,000 students from brick and mortar classroom instruction to remote learning at anytime requires significant planning,” said Hamlet. “We are doing this in less than a month.”

Hamlet says there are other needs to consider with remote instruction. “Yes, we are talking about academics. But also what about the holistic needs of students? So how does remote work look for our guidance counselors, for our social workers, for our equity advocates, for our Promise coaches?”

About 22-hundred teachers and staff went through remote learning and software training last week. This week is Spring break. Orientation is expected to begin on the 14th, instruction on the 16th.

For more information on the laptop effort and for how to donate go to, BeyondtheLaptops.org.

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