During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors has continued to invest in public education, allocating approximately $158,000 in order to purchase 534 new Chromebooks for students in Botetourt County Public Schools. These laptops can be used in the classroom as well as at home in a virtual learning environment.
The county’s purchase now ensures that all public middle school and high school students in the county will have access to a computer for school work. An additional investment by the schools will also provide Chromebooks to fifth graders.
“Technological trends are constantly pushing our educators to adapt and look for new ways to engage with and support students,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Billy Martin. “The pandemic has sped up many of the associated technology needs. Whether they are learning from home or in a classroom setting, our students need the right tools for success. I am proud that our board has been able to help our school system quickly fill this need.”
The funding for the Chromebook purchase was made possible by the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The county received a CARES Act funding allocation from the state with guidance detailing specific ways the money could be spent. The Chromebook purchase was identified right away as a possible and responsible use of the resources.
“School divisions across the country are grappling with the challenge of how to provide the best education possible in the safest manner possible”, said Dr. Jonathan Russ, Botetourt County Public Schools Superintendent. “COVID-19 has stretched resourcing, and having the board’s support to provide these valuable learning tools for our students is a tremendous benefit to our community.”
Hand-in-hand with the Chromebook purchase, the board is also investigating ways to use CARES Act funding to further address broadband access concerns.
“Our board, the Botetourt Broadband Commission, and senior staff are working tirelessly to encourage and promote the deployment of broadband throughout the county,” said County Administrator Gary Larrowe. “Over the last few years, we have made great strides, but it simply is not enough. We have multiple private sector partners who are currently working with us neighborhood by neighborhood to close the gaps and improve speed and reliability. It a big challenge but also a top priority.”