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Program that provides computers to Alberta students in need says ‘demand has been relentless’

Plan to keep Alberta K-12 students learning amid COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: (From March 20,2020) The Alberta government has rolled out new recommendations to keep K-12 students learning at home. Vinesh Pratap has the details.

As Alberta students transition to learning online because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a program that helps connect kids who need computers has become very busy.

“The demand has been relentless and we’re trying to keep up and make sure everyone who needs support can have it,” Kari Cope, executive director of Alberta Computers for Schools (CFS), said in a news release issued Tuesday. “It’s been a big push to see this success.

“I’m so proud of my team and how they have stepped up in this difficult period to ensure that Alberta families receive this much-needed equipment quickly.”

READ MORE: Alberta government releases plan to keep K-12 students learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

According to CFS — a national program that works in collaboration with provincial governments, volunteers and the private sector — the program has seen a significant uptick in applications for free refurbished computer and laptop equipment over the past three weeks.

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CFS said it is doing what it can to support low-income families, non-profit organizations and schools as they adjust work and schooling plans to meet social distancing requirements in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In Alberta alone, CFS has recently received over 100 new applications and shipped out 39 orders, providing almost 500 computers to people in need. For the most part, the computers have gone to schools so they can redistribute them to children who can’t afford their own.

Andrew Loomis, the principal of Malmo School in Edmonton, said he is very grateful for the work the program does.

“What I have experienced from the donated laptops you provided is difficult to put in words,” he said, speaking about CFS. “I will never forget the expressions on the students when they saw the face of their teachers and heard their voice because they had a donated laptop you provided.

“I can see that when students know that they are still connected to their teacher, when they hear that their teacher has not forgotten them, when they see that their teacher has not given up on them and is still working hard to help them grow, they feel safe.”

Cope said the computers are not simply loans and that she hopes they will have a long-term positive effect on students who need them.

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READ MORE: Tech Manitoba donates computers to people needing online experience during self-isolation

“Once the pandemic settles, we are going to be in desperate need to replenish our inventory,” she said.

“We will need Alberta government and companies to continue donating their old equipment to make a difference.”

Through the Government of Canada’s Computers for Schools Plus program, Alberta CFS says it normally distributes 10,000 computers each year.