Big Island school provides laptops for home online education

HONOLULU — A school on Hawaii island has distributed laptops to students who need the computers to take part in online education during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hawaii News Now reported Wednesday that Pahoa High and Intermediate School distributed about 200 Google Chromebooks during three drive-thru collection events.

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The public school’s students signed release forms allowing them to borrow the laptops.

The school’s online learning program began this week and staff said teachers and students are adapting to the changes.

Staff members said it was important to get the laptops to students quickly so they would have the technological capability they need to learn from their homes.

“The students need it now. Having that flexibility really means doing what we need to do to get it into their hands,” said Arjuna McGowen, a computer network technician at the school.

The state Department of Education announced public and charter schools will remain closed to students through April 30 in response to the virus pandemic.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Pahoa High and Intermediate teachers developed curriculum using Google classroom and other other online platforms.

“It was a very sudden shift for teachers to have to come up with only online stuff so we are supplementing that with hard copy worksheets and enrichment activities,” McGowen said.

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Difficulties of online learning include the school’s inability to provide internet service, which can be spotty in the Pahoa area about 19 miles south of Hilo.

“There’s been a great team effort at the school to support each other in adapting to this and that’s one thing I find very remarkable,” McGowen said.

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