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'Close the Divide' aims to provide low-income Idaho students with laptops, internet

According to a survey of Idaho school districts, 176,000 students do not have a computer at home, and at least 30,000 do not have Wi-Fi.

BOISE, Idaho — The coronavirus may present a huge educational disadvantage for families without a computer or internet access, if schools resort to remote learning.

Idaho Business for Education wants to close the digital divide by collecting laptop and cash donations through their Close the Divide event on Aug. 5.

The Idaho State Board of Education sent out a survey to all Idaho school districts last spring, which revealed 176,000 students do not have a computer at home, and at least 30,000 do not have Wi-Fi

“If we have to go into a remote learning situation like we did last Spring, they don’t have an equal opportunity to learn,”  President of Idaho Business for Education Rod Gramer. “People can donate money, and that money can go either to buy computers or internet service for students this fall.”

RELATED: 'We're committed to making sure that we look at the science': Boise School District awaits recommendation on re-opening plan

IBE encourages citizens and businesses to go through their closets to find their older, unused laptops.

Drop-off locations will be spread across Idaho at Sandpoint, Coeur D’Alene, Lewiston, Treasure Valley, Magic Valley, Pocatello, and Eastern Idaho.

“Here in the Treasure Valley the Discovery Center of Idaho will have a drop off location, all YMCAs, and we’re working on other drop-off locations as we speak,” Gramer said.

RELATED: Local school districts adjusting plans as Idaho students prepare to head back to class

IBE asks for laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, and tablets made after 2010.

“We all hope our schools are open in the fall,” Gramer said. “We know that having students in the classroom is the best way to educate, but if the virus surges and we have to have students learn remotely, or even all the time at home, this is the best way we can serve these students and make sure they get a good education.”

The Close the Divide statewide laptop collections will begin Wednesday, Aug. 5, or you can donate today at Idaho Business for Education’s website.

RELATED: What riding the school bus will look like for some Nampa students this Fall

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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