San Francisco schools distribute laptops to students in need for online distance learning

San Francisco schools are distributing laptops to needy students, trying to make sure education continues through the stay home order.

Schools throughout San Francisco are empty. Students say this unexpected break from school is anything but vacation. High school students say they actually miss school.

"Yeah, actually I do," said Kevin Arevelo a Mission High School junior. "Not doing the work, but just seeing my friends."

Now educators are working to make sure that students are still filling their minds.

Tuesday families began arriving at Mission High School where the district was distributing Chromebook laptop computers to students who need them.

"I came here today to pick up a computer for my little sister, 'cause needed another computer,' said Arevelo. "We only have one."

The district estimates that 4,000 of the district's 56,000 students don't have access to the internet at home.

School leaders hadn't rolled out an online learning plan yet because the district didn't want to set up a system where students with computers could continue to learn, and those without would bel left behind.

"In order to provide that for all of our students we knew that we needed to get laptops into the hands of our students," said Gentle Blythe from San Francisco Unified Schools. "So, that's part of what we're doing here today."

The district says it's able to deliver these laptops to students because more than $4 million in donations have already rolled in with private companies stepping up to help out.

"Just recently we received a $2 million gift fromThoma Bravo which is an equity firm and that was to help us deploy both meals and distance learning," said Blythe.

By mid-April the school district is hoping to have all students back in the virtual classroom.

Kindergarten through 2nd graders will be using work books and will have limited online contact with their teachers. With computers available to all, older students will be shifted to online learning.

"Starting April 13 we will be rolling out a new way to do school for all of our students," said Blythe.

The school district is now looking at ways to make up the four weeks of instruction students will miss between the school closures in March and April 13th when virtual learning begins.