BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Schools officials addressed the digital divide Thursday through a virtual discussion as thousands of students are still without laptops to use for online school during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials addressed the digital divide, saying the school system has nearly 80,000 students enrolled, but not everyone has access to getting online.

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“We are just nine days in. We are monitoring numbers. As of April 13, we had over 41,000 students logging in on online digital platforms,” Janise Lane, of Baltimore City Schools, said.

Officials say there’s about 25,000 students who don’t have technology devices.

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So far, the city has purchased more than 10,000 Chromebooks for students, and their focus is getting them in the hands of juniors and seniors.

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City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises says they now have to be flexible with their grading system,
possibly making classes pass/fail

“We are working to strike the balance between knowing not every family will have the same access to online work,” Santelises said.

The need for donations is citywide. Some people, like Ed Mullen with the Baltimore Robotics Club, are stepping in to help out by collecting donated laptops and refurbishing them for kids in need.

“We’ve had about 100 of them donated to us so far and we’ve sent about 25 of them out to the community,” Mullen said.

As for summer breaks and graduation dates, Baltimore City Schools are still waiting to see what the state says, and what the impact will be before making any official decisions.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner