Metro Detroit schools scramble to find enough technology for remote learning this fall

Technology shortage leaves many schools without enough devices for students

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Metro Detroit schools are scrambling to get their hands on the technology they need to make sure students can learn remotely this fall.

Parents are trying to secure laptops and devices so their children can start remote learning in the coming days, but they might have a difficult time on various websites.

For school districts still trying to buy technology, it’s a different story altogether.

“We placed an order back at the end of May,” said Cindy Lindner, the executive director of technology and strategic initiative for the Rochester Community School District. “(They aren’t) able to meet demand right now.”

Officials with Oakland Schools reported they have to wait several more weeks for equipment that was ordered July 1.

The massive backlog of orders means the Rochester Community School District is still trying to scrounge up some 3,000 devices to serve the remainder of its 15,000 students.

When remote learning goes into the homes of students, every child needs a device.

In the Southfield Public Schools district, the buildings and computer labs have already been cannibalized.

But as the infrastructure continues to be built, people are starting to realize that some current devices can’t do it all.

Southfield schools, for instance, have already raided their front offices and computer labs. Officials believe when school begins, every child should have a personal device to use.

“Unfortunately it won’t be a new device,” Southfield Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Green said. “It might be a repurposed device.”

The cause and effect is that once school returns to in-person learning, those device will be gone and still need to be replaced. But that can’t happen immediately because of the backlog.

“Some people might think we run to Best Buy,” Rochester Community School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner said. “We are not able to do that.”

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