**** EDUCATION/EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT Media Release
New Computers, Technology for Students
Government is committed to supporting students and teachers as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and creates challenges to learning. That is why Nova Scotia will bolster the education system with a $21.5-million investment in new computers and technology.
The province will purchase up to 32,000 new Chromebooks so students can learn from home, if needed. Schools around the province will receive upgraded Wi-Fi, servers and routers to boost the capacity of teachers to support students learning from home.
“We are helping our students and teachers with the support they need to be successful this school year,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “These purchases will put computers in the hands of students who need them and support teachers and principals at their schools with upgraded technology. All our children deserve a quality education, whether they are learning at school or at home.”
During the spring when students were required to learn from home, about 26 per cent of Nova Scotia families reported technology challenges. This investment helps address those issues.
Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan includes scenarios for at-home learning, depending on the impact of COVID-19. One option is a blended learning model, where older students learn from home while younger students and others attend school. There is also a learning at home option, whereby all students learn online.
Funding is coming from the federal Safe Return to Class Fund.
“Over the past few years, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education has been working toward having enough devices for every student who requires one. As more devices are used in our schools, both for teaching and learning as well as office work, the need to upgrade our infrastructure is even more important. This federal funding will enable us to do that infrastructure work.”
– Susan Kelley, regional executive director, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education
“When we first started connecting schools to the Internet, none of us could have dreamed of a day when the majority of the population would be walking around with a computer in their pocket. Now that we have reached that point, our schools need to be able to prepare all our students for the future we can’t yet see. By using this funding to provide equitable access to technology and information, we are taking another step toward achieving this goal.”
– Allen Whittaker, technology advantage program project lead, Tri-County Regional Centre for Education
“During the spring when the entire public system was engaged in online learning we heard from administrators from across the province that it was the issues of access to technology and connectivity that posed some of the greatest barriers to equity for students and families. This investment in equipment and infrastructure will help to ensure that those challenges are mitigated for students now and in the future. It will help to offset the inequitable impacts that many families faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “
– Tim Simony, chair, Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia
— the new computer purchases are in addition to the 14,000 devices issued to schools at the beginning of the school year
— about 26 per cent of parents indicated that students experienced challenges accessing devices at home because they were shared
— students self-identifying as African Nova Scotian and Indigenous were slightly more likely to have limited access to devices than their school counterparts
To learn more about Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan, and for FAQs about learning during the pandemic, go to: http://novascotia.ca/backtoschool
Government of Canada news release on Safe Return to Class Fund: http://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/08/26/prime-minister-announces-support-safe-return-school