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Up to 10,000 Austin ISD students could be without crucial tech at the start of the school year

Austin ISD is planning to start the school year remotely due to COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Independent School District is planning on starting its school year remotely, but it turns out there's a delay in getting Chromebooks and iPads out to some of its students.

According to Kevin Schwartz, a technology officer for the school district, up to 10,000 students could be without those devices if district leaders decide to continue with the Aug. 18 start date. He said the delay is due to a worldwide shortage with so many requests for those devices during the coronavirus pandemic.

"When you combine that with things like a pandemic and factories struggling to produce an already popular product, then everyone's already grappling for the same products at the same time,” Schwartz said.

He told KVUE it usually takes just one to two months to get their large orders in but currently an order they placed back in June isn't set to come in until at least December. That's a six-month delay and past any current or proposed start dates.

The school district wants students to be ready for the start of school, but do know that not every family has access to a computer.

WATCH: Austin ISD delayed in getting Chromebooks, iPads to students

“I've been on this journey for almost 10 years trying to make sure every student has access but this pandemic has made it critical,” Schwartz said. “It's the lifeline in some cases for families, so whether they're accessing learning or accessing food, health services and so forth.”

The district's goal to get the devices to all students who want and need them may not be met by the start of the school year. So for the time being, the district is asking families who aren't using their Chromebooks or iPads to return them, if they can. They can be returned to AISD's computer curbside locations and almost all Austin ISD campuses from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. through Thursday, Aug. 6.

AISD’s Board of Trustees could decide to push back the start of school to Sept. 8, which Schwartz said would help resolve the shortage issue.

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