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Parents applaud the Connected Futures program: DPSCD Students will receive tablets and free wireless access

Getting time on the family computer can be challenging for the three daughters of Ta’Mara Williams, two of whom attend the Districts’ Noble Elementary-Middle School and her teen daughter, who will be a sophomore at The School at Marygrove this fall.Students

“There are times where my oldest (Zyairah, 14) needs our family computer for a whole day to do her work,” Ta’ Mara said. “The problem occurs when my two girls (4-year-old Lyric and 7-year-old Ta’ Leah) also need it and have to wait their turn,” she said, noting that she’ll use her cell phone to help her younger children if they have a pressing need to do schoolwork online.

The computer access conflict in the Williams household is the same for many DPSCD families. It is one of the many reasons that Ta’Mara is grateful and excited about the District’s Connected Futures program, an initiative that provides 51,000 DPSCD students (who were registered as of the February count this year) a tablet and six months of complimentary access to the internet. The rollout of the Connected Futures program began in June at the high schools and will continue through August for K-8 students.

“Giving the devices to the children is a great step forward,” said Ta’Mara, adding that the summer distribution plan will help students be ready for the new school year this fall whether they are in classrooms, distance learning at home or doing a blend of each as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The depth of the digital divide in our community was heightened by the virus outbreak in the spring, when distance learning was implemented following the mandatory closure of schools statewide. Even with the digital divide, the District overcame the obstacle by providing paper instructional packets to those who needed them.

Through the Connected Futures program, DPSCD and its many partners in the project seek to address the digital inequity in our community, by ensuring that all students have access to a tablet computer and the internet. In addition to schoolwork, families can use the tablet for tele health appointments, continuing education research and much more.

Back in the Williams’ household, 7-year old Ta’ Leah, who will receive her tablet in July, said she will “learn a lot” with her tablet as well as talk to her teachers and watch videos about her school. Ta’ Mara said she is in the process of accessing Zyairah’s email information in Clever and will complete the required survey in order for her to get her tablet in time for the fall.

“Many parents like myself had to adjust to home schooling our children because of the virus and the closing of schools,” said Ta’Mara, while holding 4-year old Lyric in her lap. “I appreciate the Connected Futures program. I know it will help our children learn. I am grateful to all involved who made this possible.”           

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