Laptop shortage in US as families face back-to-school: Report

Educators nationwide worry that computer shortfalls will compound the inequities — and the headaches for students, families and teachers.

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Schools across the United States are facing shortages and long delays, of up to several months, in getting this year’s most crucial back-to-school supplies: the laptops and other equipment needed for online learning, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The world’s three biggest computer companies, Lenovo, HP and Dell, have told school districts they have a shortage of nearly 5 million laptops, in some cases exacerbated by Trump administration sanctions on Chinese suppliers, according to interviews with over two dozen U.S. schools, districts in 15 states, suppliers, computer companies and industry analysts.

As the school year begins virtually in many places because of the coronavirus, educators nationwide worry that computer shortfalls will compound the inequities — and the headaches for students, families and teachers.

“This is going

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Become a tech support superhero

If you’re a PC Pro reader, the following scenarios are no doubt familiar: when dad’s broadband goes down, he calls you first – not BT. When mum’s printer won’t stop spitting out error pages, it isn’t HP she picks up the phone to – it’s you. You’re also the go-to for friends with busted laptops and family members with malware infections.

While it’s nice to be needed – and to have the skills to help – unofficial tech support can be a thankless, never-ending task. As our Real World Computing columnist Mark Newton says: “The best bit of advice I can give is never let on to friends or family that you know anything about computers.”

We salute your long hours of frustrating, unpaid work and your underappreciated and poorly understood skills. To help make the job a little easier, we’ve gathered up the best tips and tricks from our

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The Technology 202: Congressional fight over funding for digital learning could leave behind as many as 15 million kids

Democrats want to include $4 billion in funding specifically dedicated to virtual learning needs. Funds in their plan would be distributed through the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program that helps schools and libraries obtain affordable broadband access. The House version of the next relief package was approved with $1.5 billion in funding for WiFi hotspots, connected devices and other telecommunications services to schools and libraries.

More than four dozen education advocacy and Internet rights groups including the National Education Assocation have signed on to support the Democratic bill and have been pushing members of the Senate to include it in the final relief package.

Republicans have proposed $70 billion in overall funding for K-12 education, a pot of money they say recipients could also use for virtual learning. 

However, the bill misses the mark and falls far short of the needs facing our nation’s schools, 16 education groups

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As a virtual start approaches, some St. Louis area schools face laptop backlogs | Education

Now some local districts are coming up short.

Jennings plans to have most students do all classes remotely. Roughly a third — generally younger students and those with special needs, said Superintendent Art McCoy — will learn partially in-person, on alternating days.

And Jennings has enough devices for grades one to 12, McCoy said. But for preschoolers and kindergartners, the district is aiming to provide touchscreen devices. McCoy said a touchscreen device is preferable for a younger child, because it is easier than using a computer mouse.

About two months ago, the district paid for 175 touchscreen Chromebooks, McCoy said. But he doesn’t expect they’ll arrive by Aug. 24, when school starts.

McCoy said he believes vendors have had trouble keeping up with the volume.

“We were one-device-to-every-family in 2017,” McCoy said. Now, he said, “the goal is one device per every child.”

He said he expects the shipment to

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Laptop Buying Guide: What to Look For in 2020 and What to Avoid

Whether you’re loyal to Windows, a Mac fan, or willing to try something new, you should know what to look for in your next laptop. Windows and Mac both have a wide selection of laptops for different needs, so you can find the model that’s the best for you. Chromebooks are worth considering too.

There’s more to a laptop than its operating system, so keep reading to find out which laptop is right for you.

Mac, Windows, or something else?

The first big consideration to take when it comes to picking your new laptop is what operating system you want it to run. While traditionally that debate was dominated by Apple’s MacOS and Microsoft’s Windows, today, it’s also worth considering Google’s Chrome OS, which tends to come on much more affordable laptops.

While there are certainly comparable hardware and features offered with these platforms, there are some stark differences between

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Virtual school is causing laptop shortages across the U.S.

American students are facing a shortage of laptops, particularly low-cost Chromebooks popular in K-8 schools, at the same time that many districts are choosing full-remote or hybrid reopening models.

Why it matters: No device = no education.

Supply and demand: U.S. laptop sales began surging in March, as the pandemic caused both kids and adults to work from home. This came on the heels of manufacturing and distribution slowdowns in China, due to both the annual New Year’s holiday closures and then virus-related disruptions.

  • “Sales have been up 20%-40% every single week,” said Stephen Baker, a consumer tech analyst with The NPD Group. “Some of the education channel sales got pulled forward into March and April, but there’s been no overall slowdown.”
  • “Not even close.” That was the response from Gregg Prendergast, Acer America president, when asked if there will be enough Chromebooks to satisfy remote learning needs at the
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Schools might not have enough laptops for students this fall

hot commodities for students during the pandemic, but that might just lead to a crisis as school resumes. Axios has found evidence of acute laptop shortages going into the back-to-school season, particularly for Chromebooks. Acer America president Gregg Prendergast warned that his company was “not even close” to supply enough of the Chrome OS laptops to support virtual classrooms. It wasn’t likely to taper off, either, as Acer just received government requests for “hundreds of thousands” of devices in California and Nevada.” data-reactid=”23″It’s no secret that laptops have been hot commodities for students during the pandemic, but that might just lead to a crisis as school resumes. Axios has found evidence of acute laptop shortages going into the back-to-school season, particularly for Chromebooks. Acer America president Gregg Prendergast warned that his company was “not even close” to supply enough of the Chrome OS laptops to support virtual classrooms.

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The Best Gear for Your Road Trips for 2020

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

Having an emergency kit in your car is a great idea for day-to-day driving, but it’s pretty much a necessity for long-distance road trips. That said, although buying a preassembled kit and being done with it is tempting, we haven’t found a great one yet after several hours of research. Even the most promising options suffer from jumper cables that are too short, too thin, or both. Basically, if you want a good kit, you’ll have to make it yourself, and we’re here to help.

We spent hours researching and testing each of these emergency essentials to ensure that they’ll be useful in case of an emergency, whether that’s your own or someone else’s.

On a desolate stretch of two-lane highway in northern Arizona, we were driving behind a rental camper van just as it had a rear tire blow out after hitting a rumble strip. The

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Best Emergency Preparedness Kit 2020

In an emergency, hearing the latest news and getting in touch with family and friends is paramount. But doing so can be tough when the electricity goes down. By investing in a few reasonably priced pieces of hardware, you’ll be able to contact loved ones and power gadgets until the local utility companies can restore services to your neighborhood. —SB

Signaling whistle

Our pick

Shoreline Marine Emergency Survival Whistle

Shoreline Marine Emergency Survival Whistle

This cheap, brightly colored whistle proved louder and easier to hear at a distance than more expensive products.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $5.


No one wants to think about being trapped during a natural disaster, but it does happen. Screaming for help might get a rescuer’s attention, but the high-pitched shrill of a whistle is far more likely to cut through the din of a fire, a windstorm, or emergency sirens.

We tested six

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Dan River Region parents split on decision to start schools in virtual mode | Local News

“Until we actually turned in that [registration form], I went just back and forth because you do also worry about the health aspects of it, obviously,” she said. “But I just feel like my kids are also at an age where they understand, they can social distance, they will wear the masks appropriately. I think when it’s safe, it’ll be OK for them.”

Among parents in the region, the opinion is split on whether or not teachers will be able to adequately reach all of their students in a virtual learning environment. Some skepticism dates back to how the process worked in the spring.

“There was no learning that went on from March, April, May, nothing, not in my house,” Boon said. “It happened too fast, and the teachers weren’t prepared for it. The children certainly weren’t prepared.”

Other parents are worried about the lack of a classroom atmosphere that

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