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Close the Divide Day collects 1,300 devices statewide

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | August 7, 2020 1:00 AM

Nearly 100 computers donated in Kootenai County for students in need

Community members, businesses and Idaho Business for Education representatives in Kootenai County worked together Wednesday to collect nearly 100 computers and devices during Close the Divide Day.

This tallies into the 1,300 devices that were collected at 47 drop-off locations across Idaho in the statewide effort to provide computers and internet access for all K-12 students before school resumes in just a few weeks.

The push has been ongoing to ensure all students have internet access as education may go completely or partially online depending on what safety measures are needed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

"The greatest thing is that we continue to create awareness among people in our state that there's a tremendous need out there for our kids," Sandy Patano, who co-chairs the Coeur d'Alene Close the Divide Team, said Thursday. "For them to go back to school, they need the right tools."

Teams have been working to sanitize the computers and wipe the data so they're prepared for student use. Patano said numerous businesses contributed thousands of dollars online, and local businesses donated several devices including new ones.

"The response was overwhelming," she said. "But we're going to continue to collect them through August."

IBE collected nearly $20,000 in cash donations, which can be used to buy computers or assist with internet service for students who don't have those tools at home.

"IBE is so grateful for the generosity of the many Idahoans who donated computers and money to our Close the Divide Day,” IBE President and CEO Rod Gramer said in a news release.

According to the "Digital Divide" survey released by the Idaho State Board of Education in July, 189,400 devices were still needed throughout the state, with more than 81,100 needed for middle and high school students. Another 30,000 students don't have internet access at all.

"Close the Divide Day was truly a community effort, but there is still so much work to be done," Gramer said. "Our Close the Divide Campaign will continue until school starts in September. If you want to help, there is still time to do so."

Info: www.idahobe.org/close

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A team of volunteers from STCU help with the Close the Divide Day in North Idaho on Wednesday. Nearly 190,000 devices are still needed so every student has the ability to participate in online instruction this fall. From left: Traci McGlathery, Keith Appleton, Kevin Moran, Sarah Hysjulien and Elizabeth Burtner. (Courtesy photo)

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Peter Riggs and his son, Axel, wipe data and prepare devices for other volunteers to sanitize on Wednesday prior to distribution during Close the Divide Day.