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Mom holding 'tech drive' for students, as Fennville Schools waits for 700 backordered laptops

Posted at 10:07 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 23:45:31-05

FENNVILLE, Mich — Fennville Public Schools is still waiting on about 700 Chromebook laptops they ordered for students in the summer.

The devices have been on backorder for months now, so a mother of one of the middle school students is stepping in to help fill the technology gaps as more schools return to remote learning.

Kim Ludwig learned first-hand how difficult middle school classes for her 12-year-old daughter, Nebiyat, would be without her own tablet or laptop before Thanksgiving.

She said, “We knew that we were going remote starting that next Monday, and so I said, “Where is your Chromebook?”

Nebiyat didn’t get one from the school as the Ludwigs had expected, so she had to borrow one from a friend who has a student at the high school.

Ludwig knew she couldn’t be the only parent in that situation, so she’s partnered with local non-profit Love Inc. in Allegan County to put together a ‘tech drive.’

“We are asking the community to bring out old laptop, tablets, hotspots, headphones, and power cords.We have about four volunteers ready to wipe them and clean them up for the students to use,” Ludwig said.

Two of those volunteers include a Professor with the Technology Department at Hope College and another who works for Apple, so Ludwig wants to assure people who donate, that their data will be safe.

Drop offs will be accepted at Maple Avenue Ministries in Holland, Love Inc.., in Hamilton or Pullman, and Crust 54 in Holland.

Ludwig has also created a Facebook page should anyone have questions.

She said the goal is to fill the gaps until the district gets all 700 devices they ordered.

Ludwig said, “They were hopeful that they would have them by now for their remote students, but they don’t.”

Fennville Middle School Principal, Brent Potts told FOX 17 that the district placed an order for the devices this past summer and all full-time remote students have been offered a school issued device.

Ludwig said that the alternative has been tough to work with though.

“Every kid was given a packet per class and given an assignment to do each day, and then they were told to take a picture of it with your parents smart phone email it to the teacher.”

She said the assignments are often multiple pages long, and hard to capture a good photo of if they are written in pencil.

Fennville Schools has been offering in-person learning to those who choose it, aside from the high school during Michigan’s ‘three-week pause,’ but Ludwig fears with COVID-19 cases on the rise, every student may have to be remote soon.

She said, “I want every kid in Fennville, and all the other rural schools to have the same opportunity that my child has.”

Potts said that they hope to have the backordered Chromebooks in by the time students return from winter break.

In an email to FOX 17 he said, “We are grateful to the members of our community who want to see that every student has the tools necessary to continue learning if the need should arise.”

Hours for drop-off donations and contact information is listed below.

Lim Ludwig - kimludwig@live.com, (616)-240-0709

Love Inc. - cindy@loveincnwa.org, or call Cindy: 269-751-2533.

Love Inc Hamilton - 4621 135th Ave, Mon- Fri: 9 am - 3 pm

Love Inc Pullman - 943 56th St, Mon, Tues, Thurs: 9 am - 2 pm Wed, Friday: 9 am - 3:30 pm

Maple Avenue Ministries - 427 Maple Avenue, Holland, Tues, Wed, Thurs. 9am - 12:30pm

Crust 54 – during business hours