April 16, 2020
Mayor Lightfoot and CPS Announce that All Students in Temporary Living Situations Will Receive Internet Access and Computing Devices
Chicago Public Schools Invests $2.5 Million to Ensure All Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) Receive Internet Access Devices to Promote Equitable Learning Opportunities; All K-12 STLS Students Will Also Receive Computing Devices Through Larger Device Distribution Strategy
CHICAGO – To ensure that our most vulnerable students have equitable opportunities to learn and grow during the COVID-19 school closure, Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools today announced that all K-12 Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) will receive an internet access device in addition to a computing device, which will be provided through the district’s larger device distribution strategy.
“Our greatest priority as leaders and adults is ensuring nothing stands in the way of our children’s potential and their dreams,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I applaud all of CPS leadership and staff for moving mountains to ensure each of our students has access to the tools they need to continue to learn and achieve with their classmates despite the unprecedented challenges this crisis brings.”
To provide internet access to all STLS students, 12,000 4G LTE internet hotspots will be distributed to STLS students. The district invested $2.5 million to purchase 11,200 devices that include four months of free internet service. The remaining 800 devices, which have phone and hotspot functionality, were generously donated by the Sprint 1Million Foundation.
“Schools play a critical role for every student but they have a unique importance for our most vulnerable students, especially students in temporary living situations,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “Our district’s commitment to equity is more important than ever before, which is why we are committed to providing these students with the digital resources they need to stay engaged and supported during this unprecedented time.”
The district estimates that approximately 12,000 CPS students are currently living in temporary living situations, which includes students who lack fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, including a common scenario known as “doubling up.” The number of STLS students fluctuates throughout the year, and the current figure - 12,000 - represents the number of K-12 STLS students enrolled as of April 1, 2020.
"During this crisis, students experiencing homelessness face unique barriers to remote learning. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless believes that computer and internet access is essential to ensuring equity for students who are homeless who often do not have access to technology and we are pleased that CPS is addressing this critical need," said Alyssa Phillips, Education Attorney with the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Devices will be shipped to schools starting this week, and schools will receive one device for every STLS student on their roster. The district’s STLS department and school STLS liaisons will work with families to learn more about their students’ needs and develop strategies to ensure every student receives the devices they need. Families will have the option to either pick up the devices at their respective school or work with the STLS department to establish a transportation or delivery option.
The district’s plan to support STLS students is part of its larger remote learning and device distribution strategy, which includes deploying more than 100,000 devices to students. As part of the district’s plan, approximately 65,000 school-based devices are being provided to students and 37,000 new devices are being allocated to schools to supplement their existing device inventory to support students with the greatest need beginning next week.
For more information on how to support Chicago Public Schools’ students and families during the COVID-19 crisis, please visit the Children First Fund website at https://www.childrenfirstfund.org/support-cff/compassion-fund/.
Chicago Public Schools serves 355,000 students in 642 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.