Amsterdam sponsors over 3,000 laptops for distance learning during coronavirus crisis

The municipality of Amsterdam is making 3,250 laptops and 450 WiFi hotspots available to pupils who do not have the proper equipment at home to follow distance education while the schools are closed during the coronavirus crisis. With this emergency measure, alderman Marjolein Moorman wants to combat inequality and prevent children from falling behind, she said to AT5.

The laptops and WiFi hotspots will be available to pupils who need them for as long as the schools are closed. The laptops will be distributed on Monday. A maximum of one laptop is available per family.

Moorman acknowledged that 3,250 laptops will not be enough to help every pupil in need. "That number is based on an inventory from early last week," she said. By the end of the week, some 5,500 pupils turned out to need a computer. "Nevertheless, we had to place an order at the beginning of the week, so that we can start as soon as possible. We are going to work with the schools to see how big the shortage is exactly and how we can get these extra devices as soon as possible."

She also acknowledged that one laptop per family will likely not be enough for families with five children, for example. "I imagine that it's difficult for those families," Moorman said to the Amsterdam broadcaster. "We are also in contact with the schools themselves. They have the best view of them. If they indicate that it is really necessary that more laptops are needed, we will look into that."

The alderman further stressed that she does not have the illusion that the laptops and WiFi hotspots will solve all the problems that arose from schools closing due to Covid-19. "This is only the first measures, something we could do as quickly as possible," she said to AT5. According to her, how the municipality will proceed from here depends on how long the coronavirus restrictions remain in place. "Options for further measures include a summer school, extended learning time, or students who need to double up."