By Rob Jennings | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A massive shortfall of laptop computers in the Paterson school district has been averted, nine days before the school year will begin with all-remote learning in the state’s third-largest city.
Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer announced Sunday night that approximately 9,600 Chromebooks purchased from Trox, an education technology company, arrived in the K-12 district over the past three days.
“I could not be happier to announce to our students and their families that they will have the best remote learning experience possible now that we have enough Chromebooks for all of our students,” Shafer said in a statement provided by the school district.
The cost of the laptops was not disclosed by the district.
Laptops will be delivered to all schools by Tuesday and parents will be contacted about picking them up, according to the statement from the school district.
Up to 11,000 of Paterson 29,000 students had been bracing for the possibility of not having laptop computers when the 2020-21 school year begins Sept. 8. The school board recently approved all-remote learning for the district until at least Nov. 2.
Many students were lacking computers and Internet access when all school buildings in New Jersey closed in March and everyone switched to virtual instruction. The district began distributing 7,000 Chromebooks to all high school students in April and launched a fundraising campaign for additional purchases that remains ongoing.
Paterson had ordered 13,845 laptops on June 2, at a cost of $3.4 million, after the district was told it would receive funding for the purchases via the federal CARES Act — the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package prompted by the pandemic and signed into law in March.
However, on Aug. 11, it was notified that a Chinese company that was working with the district’s vendor faced allegations of human rights violations from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and that as a result the laptops might not arrived until possibly a month after schools got underway.
Trox, which has an office in New Jersey, at some point reached an agreement to sell the nearly 10,000 Chromebooks to Paterson.
Moreover, the district is in the process of refurbishing 6,000 laptop and tablet computers, enabling them to perform many of the same functions as Chromebooks.
Shafer, in the district’s statement, thanked Deputy Superintendent Susana Perón, Chris Lewis and Yacine Abada in the Information Technology Department, staff members in the Central Stores Department, the Facilities Department, the Security Department and “everyone who worked with them to achieve this result.“
“They put in the long hours and worked through the weekend because they put the education of Paterson Public Schools students first, above anything else. For that, I am very grateful, and our students will be much better off as they begin the new school year,” Shafer said.