Students in Anne Arundel Co. soon won’t be able to keep free laptops at home anymore

Students in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, who previously were able to keep their free laptops at home will have to return the tech to the school system as it shifts away from a pandemic-era policy. 

Citing expiring grant funding and mounting repair costs, the school system said it would no longer provide laptops to every student for take-home use. Students have to give those Google Chromebooks back at the end of the current school year.

“The fact of the matter is that the economic conditions and the number of damaged Chromebooks throughout our system make it impossible for us to sustain this program as it was designed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Mark Bedell said in a news release.

Instead, to “ensure a greater and more consistent availability of devices for students,” the system will begin keeping the laptops at schools.

“We have said for a couple of years now that funding crunches from the ending of ESSER would necessitate changes in the way we do things, and this is one of those changes,” Bedell said.

Currently, students in Anne Arundel County schools have access to Chromebooks based on their current grade level. Students in grades 3 through 12 are offered one of the laptops that they take back and forth from home to school. This year, students in kindergarten through 2nd grade have kept their laptops at home and did not have to bring them back and forth.

AACPS said all students who have a Chromebook distributed by the school system should be prepared to give them back by the end of this school year so they can be inventoried or reconditioned before the 2024-2025 school year gets underway.

Students previously were able to take their school-issued Chromebooks home over the summer with instructions on how to take care of them and use them to advance their learning.

Students who need a laptop for home use during the school year can participate in a loaner program administered by each individual school to request a Chromebook for either a semester or the entire year. Insurance for the laptops can also be purchased by parents.

Qualifying families can also apply for a free Chromebook through a partnership between the Anne Arundel County Public Library system and the state of Maryland.

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Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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