Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, there have been many items that have gone through a shortage. The initial items that were difficult to come by were paper goods like toilet paper and cleaning products such as Lysol. As time has progressed, these hot commodity items have changed. With schools resuming, whether it be in person, online, or a hybrid of both, laptops and tablets are the latest items that are nearly impossible to come by. School districts all over the United States, as well as other countries are experiencing shortages of these devices.
Lenovo, HP, and Dell have told school districts they have a shortage of about five million laptops. The delays started in the spring and have only intensified with the continued demand. Schools that have placed orders months ago have either received part of their orders or are still waiting for their orders to be fulfilled. Many schools had delivery dates prior to the start of the school year, however their delivery dates keep getting pushed back without a definite date of arrival. The Denver Public Schools district ordered 12,500 Chromebooks back in April and May and are still waiting on the delivery on these devices. The state of California noted that their school districts are waiting on roughly 300,000 computers and schools in Alabama are waiting on 33,000 computers. With the shortage continuing and school back in session, many districts are scrambling to fill the gaps.
A school district in Buffalo, NY is waiting on the delivery on 10,000 iPads. To cope with the devices not being delivered, teachers are printing packets for the students who do not have access to a computer or tablet. They are doing this with the hopes that students without a device can keep up with students who do have a device. In Duval, Florida teachers are noticing a gap between students who have access to a device and those that do not. Teachers whose students lack access to a device and are doing a hybrid of learning, are failing classes due to their inability to log on on days they are remote learning.
In Newport Connecticut, the director of technology at one of their schools said how they just ran out of devices. The school developed a five-year plan in which it would be able to provide all their students with technological devices. Once Covid-19 hit, they had to condense this five-year plan into a five month plan. Although the school ordered about 22,000 Chromebooks, they still get about 60-100 requests for devices a day.
The shift towards remote learning due to Covid-19 has had a large impact on technological devices. The demand is skyrocketing and the access to parts and devices is declining. While schools are waiting on the delivery of their shipments, they have organized laptop and tablet donations. They have also asked students who received a device from the school to return it if they have a household or personal device they can use for school. The districts are then redistributing these devices to students who do not have access to one. As time progresses, schools hope to overcome this obstacle and be able to give each student their own device, closing the technological and academic gap.