With schools closing in US states due to the coronavirus outbreak, charity Comp-U-Dopt is working to provide low-income families in the Houston area with computers.
School closures of at least eight weeks may better fight the spread of the coronavirus than shorter breaks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, and many American schools have switched to online classes.
However, not all children have access to computers at home.
Comp-U-Dopt has begun distributing computers for free to families in need in Harris County, Texas, and is enlisting more recipients.
“Our mission at Comp-U-Dopt is to provide technology to students who need it most, and we understand the need is greater than ever,” the charity wrote in a statement on its website.
To register, a child must be enrolled in school in Harris County and lack access to a working laptop, tablet or computer at home.
The response has been tremendous. On the first day the program opened up, the reservations filled up in less than three minutes. Then it was 30 seconds on the second day.
Sixty spaces are made available each day, and 3,000 to 5,000 people are attempting to register for a computer each day, according to Comp-U-Dopt CEO Megan Steckly.
“The public outpouring of people wanting to donate their personal computers has been equally high,” Steckly told CNN. “To address this, we’ve added in a computer dropoff drive-thru from 1-3 p.m. on weekdays at our warehouse. People do not need to register for this.”
The organization currently has 400 computers available to distribute this week, but it needs the funds or parts to increase its in-house inventory. Steckly said that there are an additional 500 computers that could be made available if they had batteries.
Comp-U-Dopt is also practicing health safety for distribution.
“We have virucide and Clorox wipes to clean surfaces and computers, we are limiting the number of staff who are working to distribute computers so we can practice social distancing protocols, and everyone is gloved and masked,” Steckly said. “We are also ensuring people do not get out of their vehicles.”
Distribution is limited to one device per household. Further details can be found at the group’s site.
Founded in 2007, Comp-U-Dopt aims to boost access to computers, with the belief that every child deserves equal access to education and opportunity, according to its website.