Northampton schools seek laptop donations amid Chromebook shortage

  • Bridge Street School parents wait outside the Northampton elementary for the dismissal of students shortly after noon on Friday, March 13, 2020, at the end of a previously scheduled half day. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/5/2020 12:03:27 AM
Modified: 9/5/2020 12:03:14 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Facing a shortage of Chromebooks for the coming school year, Northampton school officials are asking community members to temporarily donate laptops for student and staff use.

Due to supply chain issues, the district is facing a gap of around 150 Chromebooks as they wait for the delayed order to arrive in October, according to Superintendent John Provost and spokesman Antonio Pagán.

The district placed orders for additional Chromebooks in June and July when officials began to anticipate that at least part of the next school year might be taught remotely, Provost said. But as schools around the country scramble for Chromebooks, the wait time for the orders has dramatically increased — one order placed in June will not arrive until December.

“A Chromebook order typically takes between two to five weeks to get in,” Provost said. Now, “It went from two to five weeks to six months for delivery.”

Another order placed through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will provide the school with Chromebooks in the first two weeks of October. But with classes slated to begin on Sept. 16, this shipment will still arrive weeks too late to ensure that all students have access to the devices.

Approximately 2,700 students are in the Northampton School District, and school officials plan to provide all students with a Chromebook. Some staff members are also in need of the devices. While the district currently estimates that it faces a shortage of 150 Chromebooks, this number is “very fluid,” Pagán said, as some of the school’s current devices will soon become outdated.

The district currently has enough devices for all students in grades 3-12 and most staff members, but around half of students in preschool through second grade remain without the laptops.

The district has already looked to different approaches to bridge this gap, Pagán said, and acquired 386 Chromebooks through a Postal Service program at an earlier point. Provost initially reached out to local colleges, but found that they were struggling with the same issue.

It is “critically important” that all students have access to the Chromebooks, Provost said.

“It’s a tremendous problem of equity, and it’s very important to us to ensure that all students have the means to participate in the remote learning plan for the school year,” he said.

“I know there are so many generous people in the community,” Provost said, “and I’m reaching out to them to help us through this crisis period.”

Those who wish to donate can visit to schedule a drop-off time at the James House ITS Department at 42 Gothic St. The school has particular need for Chromebooks of any brand with at least 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and Chrome OS 80 or Windows 10 laptops with integrated web cameras.

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