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Need for computers high in Winnipeg as online education the new normal with COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Hundreds of Manitoban families without computers for home learning'
Hundreds of Manitoban families without computers for home learning
WATCH: With an early and abrupt end to in-person classes, school kids in Manitoba are expected to pick up their studies at home, but that's particularly difficult for the hundreds who don't have access to a home computer, much less the internet. Global's Malika Karim reports – Apr 27, 2020

With schools being closed and families having to rely on technology to keep kids up to speed with daily assignments, a Winnipeg based community group says they’ve been inundated with requests for computers.

Inspire Community Outreach assists families with educational programming, designed to meet the needs of those living with mental health issues and neurological or cognitive differences.

Now, amidst the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, the group is introducing a program to help get computers to families who don’t have them, so that kids can stay on top of their school work while learning from home.

CEO and Founder, Angela Taylor says they’ve received more than 800 applications from families who need computers.

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“We’ve been partnering with a lot of different organizations including Computers for Schools [Manitoba] and they’ve told us they won’t be able to meet the need,” Taylor said, “that they can maybe get us 200, 300 to 400 [computers].

“So we’re looking to call upon the community to see if we can acquire another 400-plus computers”

Taylor says community members who have old computers or tablets they’re able to donate can drop them off to Computers for Schools Manitoba, Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4pm.

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Taylor says they have reached out to the provincial government for assistance or alternative solutions for families in need of computers, but so far has yet to receive a response.

“We have not heard anything from any authorities or government bodies,” Taylor said.

“I just want to be mindful that there’s so many families, so many individuals in isolation, and we all have needs, we all need technology, if you’re without, you’re really at a disadvantage.”

Global News reached out the the Premier’s office, the Minister of Educations office and the Families Minister’s office Monday for comment. The province providing the following statement.

“The department is coordinating with school divisions, Manitoba School Boards Association, and other stakeholders to help supply technology and internet access to those who may have limited accessibility,” the statement reads. “We know that access to technology varies across the province.

“We are working with stakeholders across the province to scale up existing print-based options that are available, including those from the Distance Learning Unit within Manitoba Education.

“There is also a provincial working group dedicated to students with limited access to technology, and divisions are working with the resources available to get students the tools they need to succeed.”

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