Toronto

Nearly 2,000 TDSB students still waiting to receive laptops, tablets for virtual learning

Nearly 2,000 students at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) are waiting to receive the laptops and tablets they need for virtual learning, despite classes being on for nearly a month.

'One of the main challenges we have right now is the shortage of hardware in the market,' TDSB says

The TDSB lent 60,000 devices to its students during the spring transition to remote learning.  (Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly 2,000 students at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) are waiting to receive the laptops and tablets they need for virtual learning, despite classes being on for just over a month. 

The school board's IT director said the delays aren't unique to the TDSB, but rather reflect larger backlogs amid surging demands for Chromebooks and iPads across the country.

"One of the main challenges we have right now is the shortage of hardware in the market. We have exhausted what we have in stock, we're just waiting for other shipments to come in," said the TDSB's executive officer of IT, Peter Singh, adding that the board has ordered 10,000 new devices.

"We're hoping over the next five to eight business days [that] we'll be able to meet these needs," he added.

The TDSB lent 60,000 devices to its students during the spring transition to remote learning. 

It received 10,000 additional requests for equipment during the 2020-21 school year, but one of five of those students continue to wait. 

The IT director could not comment on how students were pursuing online classes without the necessary equipment, but apologized for delays.

"Things are not in our control, I cannot make these devices [at the] TDSB, they have to come from somewhere," he said.

Alexis Dawson, chair of the Rawlinson Community School council and the TDSB's Black Student Achievement Community Advisory Committee said the school board has been "vague" about its ability to ship devices.

"This is something that the TDSB recurrently said they are working on, but they have not provided any numbers or concrete plans," she said.

Schools doing all they can to provide equipment to students

The principal of Westview Centennial Secondary School, Monday Gala, said individual schools and the board at-large are doing all they can to provide equipment to students.

But "you're going to have situations where a kid that had a computer yesterday all of a sudden needs a computer today, because the one they have is not working [or] has broken," Gala said.

"When a board like the TDSB is giving students thousands of laptops, that process of replacing those that are broken alone is going to [mean] there is always a kid out there at any time who still needs a laptop," he adds. 

"But that does not mean there is nothing being done about it."

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