Column: Laptop shortage will affect school year

Logan Raschke

School districts around the nation are in desperate need of laptops to facilitate virtual learning. This laptop shortage could cause irreparable harm to students’ remote educations if shipment delays continue.

The global leaders of computer companies, Lenovo, HP and Dell, have informed school districts in the U.S. of an almost 5-million-laptop shortage, according to the Associated Press. This has led to many districts waiting months on end to receive laptop shipments.

The high demand for laptops in spring paired with interruptions in laptops’ supply chains due to COVID-19 are big contributors to the shortage, according to the Associated Press.

Additionally, on July 20, the U.S. sanctioned 11 Chinese companies that the Trump Administration says were implicated in forced labor or human rights violations against the Uighurs, a minority Muslim population, according to the Associated Press.

These same Chinese companies manufactured laptops for the U.S., including several Lenovo models. The Lenovo company has cited this recent issue as a reason for another several-weeks-long delay for customers, including school districts.

If circumstances for students, especially those in K-12 who totally relied on in-person learning before the pandemic, weren’t bad enough, now everything is leagues worse.

There’s no way students can learn remotely unless they have the necessary technology.

What makes matters worse is there’s no easy solution and as school years have started, a lot of damage is already done.

The unprecedented demand for laptops and the supply chain disruptions couldn’t have been predicted or avoided.

The disagreement between the U.S. and several Chinese companies in charge of manufacturing the laptops is understandable as well because the matter concerns the abuse of a minority group’s human rights.

But this will have severely negative effects on their educations because, well, how do you learn online if you don’t have the technology?

For school districts in desperate need of laptops, their administrations are tasked with supplementing the deficit one way or another.

The shortage greatly burdens teachers with yet another skyscraper-sized hurdle.

Teachers had to completely change the way they were teaching by switching from in-person instruction to virtual learning. The teachers in districts where virtual learning is mandatory will need to completely change again.

I can’t even imagine the stress, frustration, fear and anxiety for the teachers and students.

No matter what happens, this laptop shortage has already caused severe damage to students’ educations across the nation. If shipments are delayed for several more months, as some projections show are possible, the damage will likely be irreparable.

 

Logan Raschke is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]