Camden students to receive laptops during COVID-19 school closures

By Courier Post, Phaedra Trethan, March 27, 2020

Courier Post

March 27, 2020

Phaedra Trethan

CAMDEN — High school students at six district schools will receive laptops to help them learn remotely as schools remain closed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Superintendent Katrina McCombs said Friday that donations totaling $400,000 will enable the district to purchase Dell Chromebooks, along with licensing fees for Google platforms.

The technology will go to students at Camden and Woodrow Wilson high schools, as well as Big Picture Learning Academy, Brimm Medical Arts, Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy and Pride Academy.

Students can access the internet through Comcast's Internet Essentials and free Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, which have been made more widely available in the midst of the outbreak.

Donors include the Camden Education Fund, Townsend Press and Campbell Soup Company.

“In these extraordinary times, we are seeing individuals and organizations step up to support Camden families,” said McCombs.

“As educators, we have always known that the digital divide is an equity issue. Now, with students at home and schools closed, it is more important than ever," she said.

"With this generous gift, I’m thrilled to announce that all of our high school students will be able to continue their learning at home, prepare for critical exams like the SAT, and complete college essays and applications."

The Camden Education Fund, a nonprofit supporting Camden public schools, committed $200,000.

“As we consulted educators on how to best support the school district at this unprecedented time, all conversations returned to the digital divide," said executive director Naeha Dean. "In 2020, our secondary students should have access to technology to support their learning, crisis or not."

George Norcross III, chairman of Cooper University Hospital, worked to secure additional funding from Townsend Press and Campbell Soup Co., the school district's statement said.

Townsend Press, a West Berlin-based publishing company, specializes in educational materials.

"Today’s high school students are tomorrow’s leaders, and it’s critical that they have all the resources they need to be successful,” said Townsend co-founder John Langan.

Townsend has also provided funding and books for Book Arks throughout the city.

Campbell Soup Co. "is honored to be able to assist students in our hometown continue to learn and develop during this crisis," said Mark Clouse, president and CEO of the Camden-based firm.

"We are in this together and will work to provide the support needed in Camden and all the other communities where we operate," said Clouse.

Campbell's, which has seen demand for its soups and other products soar amid quarantines and states of emergency, committed more than $1 million in financial support and food assistance to help communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Food Bank of South Jersey and the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, the district's statement said.

Cooper's Ferry Partnership and the Cooper Foundation also contributed.

“It’s a testament to the character of our great city that in these uncertain times people are coming together to support each other,” said Mayor Frank Moran.


Phaedra Trethan has been a reporter and editor in South Jersey since 2007 and has covered Camden since 2015. She’s called South Jersey home since 1971.