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In NJ, 89K students can’t get online at home. Here’s how schools are trying to fix that

Stacey Barchenger, Hannan Adely | July 1, 2020 | |

As New Jersey readies for a new school year heavy on remote instruction, advocates and educators are working to bridge a digital divide that threatens to leave students without access behind.

Despite progress during the coronavirus lockdown, about 89,000 students across the state were home without learning devices or internet access in June, New Jersey officials said. Around the state, school leaders say they are taking steps to get students online this fall, with some promising to use funding from the federal coronavirus stimulus on new technology.

Some districts, including those in Paterson and Morristown, say they will have a device for every student in every grade by the time classes resume.

“COVID relief money was a God-send,” said Eileen Shafer, Paterson’s superintendent. “We were able to buy enough Chromebooks for every student from pre-K to 12. That really was a saving grace in all this.”

Critics say commitment by individual districts doesn’t go far enough and that the state should have a concrete plan to ensure every student is equipped and online by the time school is back in session in September.

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