Chicago schools purchase more laptops in case of COVID surge

December 25, 2021 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools officials have purchased 100,000 new laptops in anticipation of more students needing to take classes remotely in January if cases of the coronavirus surge.

But district officials still hope to avoid a system-wide return to remote learning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Leaders of the nation’s third-largest school district this month asked its Board of Education to spend more on computers than initially planned in an August 2020 agreement that totaled $120 million over three school years.

The new plan increases the total to $296 million over three school years. The district also said this week that it purchased another 100,000 laptops for about $39 million.

Spokeswoman Sylvia Barragan said that purchase was “in preparation for more classrooms to switch to remote learning if needed amid a possible COVID-19 surge in January.”

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CEO Pedro Martinez has repeatedly said the district will not close down unless there is a citywide order requiring it and will continue making closure decisions based on individual schools or classrooms. But there is heightened concern about a spike in new coronavirus cases following the district’s winter break and the omicron variant’s arrival.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that many businesses including restaurants and bars must require proof of vaccination starting Jan. 3.