Coronavirus: Fresno Unified to give out 37,000 laptops to students as schools transition to online learning

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was a tough decision, but the Fresno Unified board of trustees unanimously agreed Wednesday night to keep school closed for the rest of the academic school year.

"I just want to emphatically say that the right public health decision is for us to close the schools," said board trustee Veva Islas.

RELATED: Fresno Unified School District extends school closures for remainder of 2019-2020 school year

This means the school district needs to provide thousands of students with the proper equipment to virtually attend class.

At the moment, crews are working to configure and sanitize nearly 37,000 laptops for fourth through twelfth graders.

Those in third grade and below will get tablets, but there are some challenges.

"There's a shortage and the shipping time is about 10 to 12 weeks," said Fresno Unified Chief Technology Officer Kurt Madden. "We are working those with our vendors and are trying to move those up."

On Thursday, 400 laptops were distributed. Board Trustee Terry Slatic said there's an even bigger hurdle the district needs to overcome to prepare students.

"Getting those WiFi hotspots all out there, that is the challenge that is even bigger, far bigger then the laptop tablet piece," he said.

To meet the demand, the school board is working with a local vendor to acquire more than 10,000 hotspots. Slatic said learning at home could have lasting effects on students that might not be seen until they return to the classroom.

As the school district continues rolling out equipment, Slatic said it could take some time before all students are ready for online learning.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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