The impact from COVID-19 may lead to a rise in the number of homeless students for the upcoming year in Peoria public schools.
Jerry Bell, executive director of middle schools, said District 150 has averaged about 600 homeless students over the past three years. As of Friday morning, slightly fewer than 300 homeless students were registered.
“I'm sure as the school year approaches starting Monday of next week, that we'll slowly start to see those numbers increase,” said Bell. “I’m venturing to say over the next three or four weeks that we will more than likely surpass that 600 average.”
As a safety precaution related to the pandemic, the district has opted for full remote learning for the first semester. Naturally, this requires an internet connection and Bell said the district has been working with shelters to ensure homeless students have access to the online platforms.
“Regardless of if a student is homeless or not, he or she is given a computer--or, a ‘stream,’” said Bell, adding that anyone experiencing connectivity issues should contact the district’s instructional support leader, Susan Kelsath.
“She will work with that homeless family as well as with the internet service provider, be it Comcast or AT&T or whomever, in order to facilitate getting them the best option available to connect with the internet.”
Bell said the district used money it received through the federal CARES Act to order additional computer devices so there will be enough to go around.
“We have an ample supply and just over 1,000 streams coming in that we ordered five or six weeks ago,” he said. “So, every student should have a device; that should not be a problem.”
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