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As CPS Prepares For E-Learning, Organization Steps In For Kids Who Don't Have Digital Access, Seeking Device Donations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago Public Schools students are going to have to pull those books from their backpacks, because they'll be required to do four hours of home learning when their scheduled spring break ends.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, e-learning for all students is expected to begin April 13. Teachers and student will return to class with the help of technology, and it will take some adjustment for some students.

But other students do not have digital access at all.

When Gov. JB Pritzker ordered schools closed in Illinois to shut down the nearly 400,000 CPS students were forced to stay home.

"Well, how do the kids stay at home and do class work if they don't have internet access?" said Tamar Manesseh of Mothers Against Senseless Killings. "We're there to serve a community that's full of those minimum-wage earning essential workers those who work in our supermarkets and drug stores."

And the children of those workers are filling spots at some portable units that have been set up at 75th Street and Stewart Avenue. That is where the community resource center operates – and since the state's stay-at-home order began a week ago Saturday, Manasseh said the resource center has been inundated.

"Those people still need child care. Those students still need quality education and help with their school work," Manasseh said, "and we're there for all of that."

Despite the overwhelming need, the center can only help seven students at a time.

"Then they have to come in cycles they have to rotate in and out because of the social distancing, because we can only have so many in one space at a time," Manasseh said.

And with CPS having announced e-learning will begin in two weeks, Manasseh has already seen the huge setback those in her community and across Chicago face.

"They don't have phones or access to internet or the outside world," Manasseh said.

Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Janice Jackson said the district is working on getting 100,000 devices into the hands of those in need.

"Remote learning plans will be both digital and non-digital options, and we are also taking steps to ensure that everyone is supported," Jackson said. "We are working aggressively to bridge the digital divide.

CPS said it will be distributing 100,000 devices, including Chromebooks, iPads, and laptops.

But Manasseh said that is not enough.

"It's 400,000 and you're only giving 100,000," she said. "What happens to those other kids? What happens to all of those other kids?"

There is an online push to get older cellphones and tablets donated to MASK. If you have an old cellphone or tablet lying around that you'd like to donate, you can bring it to the resource center at 7500 S. Stewart Ave. from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

You may also donate through the group's website,

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