Despite the exhortation made yesterday by the Secretary of the Department of Education (DE), Eligio Hernández, that from next week teachers seek to communicate with their students via the internet or by phone call, the agency is still looking for ways to distribute 280,016 electronic equipment —computers and tablets— out of a total of 330,000 that have been allocated for these purposes.
The distribution of electronic equipment becomes relevant after the announcement made by the DE holder about the delay in the beginning of classes at distance – scheduled for next week in the country's public system – in the face of the increase in Covid-19 infections.
Until last Thursday the DE had delivered 19,588 electronic devices to permanent teachers, while 365 temporary educators had received 'laptops'. The total number of teachers in the public system amounts to around 24,000.
Students are where the greatest challenge of the DE lies, since it has only been able to deliver 185 computers, when at present it has a student population of around 300,000.
The computers were distributed to the students in two schools – one in Guánica and the other in Guayanilla – located in the southwestern area, which has been devastated by the strong earthquakes registered since the beginning of January.
Many students in the southwest area they have not been able to resume their classes since that month, when the earthquakes began.
Priority to the southwest
The students of the Agripina Seda School, in Guánica —which completely succumbed after an earthquake— and the Dalila Torres School, in Guayanilla, have been the only ones who have been able to receive the electronic equipment.
According to the Minister of Education, students in the southwest area will have priority when distributing this technology. The delivery of computers is scheduled to be completed between August and November of this year.
In yesterday's message, Hernández indicated that teachers will communicate with their students and their families and identify opportunities to adjust study alternatives in the week of August 17 to 21.
Education recommended to teachers the use of Microsoft Teams or any other alternative at home that fits the student's need. Additionally, teachers were urged – by memorandum – to be empathetic to students and their family situations and to provide reasonable accommodation, among other provisions.