A Surrey student works on some school work at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo: Ritinder Matthew)

Surrey Schools working on a plan to provide WiFi for students in need

District also loaning out electronics for remote learning

The Surrey school district has been loaning out electronics to students in need as they switch to remote learning amid COVID-19.

Board of Education Chair Laurie Larsen said the district has been loaning out supplies such as laptops, iPads and headphones “that students may need that they don’t have at home.”

She said there is a protocol for distributing the electronics.

“In certain areas, they are more in need than others.”

That includes loans based on curriculum and the teacher’s lesson plan, as well as Grade 12 students, according to the district.

The criteria for loans is created at the district level, and then teachers can put forward the requests to their principals.

READ ALSO: Surrey parents, students navigate remote learning during COVID-19, April 3, 2020

Surrey Schools is also working on a plan for “potential wireless access points.”

The internet, according to the district, is a concern for a lot of families.

“It’s one thing to be able to provide technology, so the devices to these families, but often WiFi is also needed,” said district spokesperson Ritinder Matthew.

She said the plan for WiFi is “ongoing” in the district and that it will take some time.

Telus, along with B.C.’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and Alberta’s Ministry of Community and Social Services, has rolled out a program that provides eligible families with cheaper internet plans.

Meantime, the district is continuing to offer its meal program to students in need.

READ ALSO: Surrey school district’s meal program to continue during COVID-19, March 31, 2020

Starting at nine schools, the program features a combination of drive-thru and in-person pickup. The district says social distancing and other infection-control practices “will be closely followed.”

“This was a priority for all of the trustees,” said Larsen. “We knew families relied on this support, and in light of what’s happening, we didn’t want our students or their families to have one more thing to worry about.”

As for the district’s monthly board meetings, the April 8 meeting was cancelled.

“We’re exploring other methods to engage our community and stay connected in a safe manner,” explained Larsen. “We have a few options we’re considering for the next board meeting and we wanted some time to work out the glitches before rolling this out.”

READ ALSO: ‘Having to re-invent the way they do their work’: What learning could look like in Surrey amid COVID-19, March 28, 2020

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