HOUSTON - At AAMA Sanchez Charter Schools on Houston's southeast and north sides, at least 60 percent do not have access to a computer, internet or both at home.
When the schools were forced to move to online learning, Giselle Cantu, a freshman, had internet at home but not a laptop.
Giselle tried to do as much of her work as she could on her cell phone.“I was concerned about her eyes because she had her phone here,” said her mother, Maria Cantu, pretending to hold a phone a few inches from her face.
About two weeks ago, Giselle’s school was able to provide her with a laptop.
“Before that I was emailing teachers to see if they could send me their work through my email so I could print it out,” Maria added.
Now that she has what she needs, Giselle says she's already a week ahead, and likes online learning. “I'm able to do my assignments, like, complete them faster,” Giselle told FOX 26.
“They're absolutely capable. It’s just that a device is missing, you know,” said Margaret Rodriguez, Superintendent for AAMA Charter Schools. She adds, so far, they've been able to secure about 400 laptops for students with the help of donors.
Between the two AAMA school campuses, there are roughly 1000 students. The student body is 98% Latino and 89% are considered economically disadvantaged.
Right now, most of their parents are out of work.
”We have Pre-K 3 and 4,” Rodriguez explained. ”In polling those parents specifically, about 90 percent of them are in service jobs.”
The first round of laptops were for households with internet. Next, they will be helping those without it. Rodriguez worries some discounted internet service plans may still be too much for some families and hotspots may be in short supply.
“I think Chrome books are have been scarce as of a couple of days and, hopefully, everybody's getting their inventory along with hotspots,” she said.
The schools hope to secure 100 more laptops to give out next week.
Like many other communities, another big need has been help with food.
On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, AAMA along with partner organizations are also doing food distribution.