Philadelphia School District spending millions to buy Chromebooks for students during closure

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The School District of Philadelphia is moving ahead with plans to buy thousands of laptops for students, so that they can be taught online during the coronavirus closure. 

The school board unanimously approved spending up to $11 million to buy 50,000 Chromebooks to connect students at home with their teachers online. 

"The plan provides a Chromebook to every district student who needs one for learning at home. It makes digital content available to retain and learn skills with the support of a teacher,” said Superintendent William Hite.

Hite says the Chromebooks would be distributed at schools and loaned to students during the week of April 6, with teachers beginning to teach with tools including Google Classroom the following week. 

Nearly half of the funding is coming from the CEO of Comcast and his family.

Brian Roberts said it was "a heartbreak" to hear that students wouldn't be learning during the closure, so he’s contributing $5 million to the cause.      

“It's something that personally our family wanted to do to help the Philadelphia School District,” he said. “My wife Aileen had this idea: ‘Well, maybe you can go help buy those computers.’ ”

The district is also working with the city to find low-cost or free internet access for families who need it.