THE council is providing digital support for almost 2,000 families across Carmarthenshire during the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 1,600 computers are being distributed, and the council is helping a further 300 families with connection issues so that children can keep learning from home.
The council’s IT department has been working closely with secondary schools who have assisted with the supply and preparation of equipment.
They have been able to identify suitable devices which have been then repurposed with up-to-date
software to help pupils continue with their schoolwork.
Connections issues have also been a big problem for a lot of families, including the Thomas family from Dryslwyn.
Mum Abigail (pictured), who works at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen, has three children aged 10, 13 and 16 who attend Nantgaredig primary and QE High. She explained that the internet bandwidth at home was so low it was preventing her children from carrying out their work effectively.
She was given a laptop and a dongle, which has resolved the issues they were having with downloading and sending work.
Mrs Thomas said: “It was a nightmare, they weren’t able to carry out any work on Google Classroom, it would take a day just to download something, and then the same to try and upload work.
“It meant they had to print off the work and do it on paper, then take a picture and email it their teacher; it wasn’t ideal.
“My daughter is doing her AS-levels so we were very lucky to get the laptop and the dongle. We have two laptops at home, but they don’t work properly. It is so much better, it has made a big difference, and the children are much happier. It is probably much easier for the teachers too.”
The Welsh Government has made £3million available to support digitally excluded learners in Wales during the coronavirus outbreak.
Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I am delighted that we are helping so many families in Carmarthenshire; no child should be left behind because they do not have access to a computer or broadband.
“This is a huge logistical effort and I want to thank officers from across the council and the schools who have been working together to deliver this support for families as quickly as possible.”
The distribution of equipment has almost been completed; schools are in touch with the remaining families to organise collection.
Access to learning and connectivity is one of the key priorities in the council’s Distance Learning Plan which aims to mitigate the impact of school closures on children and young people as far as possible so that they can quickly catch up.
Schools in Carmarthenshire will re-open from June 29 to July 24 for children to ‘check in and catch up’ before the summer holidays. It will include both face to face time with their teachers during this period, as well as continuing with their distance learning activities.
For updates on the re-opening of schools please visit the council website newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/coronavirus