Tens of thousands in need of tech for online learning so they don’t have to choose between education and health

HOUSTON – The school year will look a lot different because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some parents have opted to send their kids back to the classroom while others have decided to keep them home.

But making the choice of virtual learning can be challenging for some families who don’t have access to a computer and internet. It’s a problem that many leaders are working to solve in the Houston area and around the country.

Several school districts, elected officials and companies like Comp-U-Dopt and T-Mobile have already invested millions in digital access programs that are needed to bridge the gap and prevent economically disadvantaged families from having to choose between education and safety.

KJ Minor is 5 years old. On Wednesday, he spent the afternoon learning about science in motion. He and his siblings will be through the new school year on their laptops.

“When we got these (laptops) it was a big help,” said KJ’s mother, Monique Minor. Her kids will attend Aldine and Humble Independent School Districts this year and she credits the schools for making sure students are prepared for virtual learning. She said if they hadn’t recieved devices from the school, she doesn’t think she could have gotten a laptop for everyone.

It’s a new era for parents amid the coronavirus pandemic but not all families have access to digital devices and the internet-something that’s much needed.

“I wish I could find word that was more enatic that critical because it is the essential bridge to learning,” said Gaby Rowe. She is the project lead of Operation Connectivity, a joint effort between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office, the Teacher’s Education Agency and the Dallas Independent School District.

“It was designed to ensure that every student in the state of Texas was fully connected by the 21-22 school year,” she said.