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SLC School District to lend desktops to cover laptop shortage

West High School in Salt Lake City is one of the schools seeing a laptop shortage Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.

(Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Educators are trying a different way to fix the student laptop shortage in the Salt Lake City School District. One member of the district’s board doesn’t think the stop-gap measure will be enough to meet demand.

Since news of the laptop shortage broke, the district has received roughly 1,300 donated devices.

District spokesperson Yándary Chatwin says they got 1,100 laptops from one of their vendors, another 100 from the Salt Lake Education Foundation, and 100 iPads. However, those donations still don’t cover the gap of 6,000 laptops the district had ordered but hasn’t yet received.

So, Chatwin says their IT department is preparing to lend their desktops from their computer labs to students impacted by the laptop shortage.

“If we can get students started on desktops, we can swap them out when the laptops arrive,” she said.

Laptop shortage came unexpectedly

Will this be enough to handle the demand? It’s hard to say. Chatwin says they asked parents earlier in the year if they believed they would need a laptop in the fall and 60% more families came to collect one than had indicated that they needed it.

“We’re hopeful we can meet the gap between (the desktops) and the help of community partners who have already stepped up to make sure that we’ve got additional laptops ready,” she said.

Criticism for the plan

Board of Education Precinct member Michael Nemelka has been a vocal critic of the district’s plan to use strictly online classes for the first quarter. He says he still believes it’s a lazy way to teach. Plus, he says the board received warnings a shortage was possible.

“They should have started ordering them a long time ago. We don’t have enough computers for the west side,” he said.

Even if you took all of the computers from all of the labs, Nemelka still doubts it would be enough. He believes students who don’t get a device should receive permission to attend class in person, as long as they follow proper safety guidelines.

“I think there are a lot of teachers would welcome them there [as long as] they mask,” he added.

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