The “School at Home” (in Portuguese “Escol@ em Casa”) - Municipal Extraordinary Support Program in the context of COVID-19 disease, is an initiative to temporarily grant about 850 computers and 500 internet access equipment to students who do not have these distance learning tools. The objective is to ensure that distance learning does not reproduce or multiply social inequalities.
The Municipality of Torres Vedras is managing, in a partnership with the council 4 School Groups – Madeira Torres, Henriques Nogueira, Padre Vítor Melícia and, São Gonçalo - and Externato de Penafirme School.
The initiative arises due the COVID-19 pandemic, since March 16, 2020, to mitigate the identified inequalities in access to computer and internet equipment for students in primary and secondary education in the municipality, in the face of closed schools and, consequently, the implementation of the e-learning classes, taking into account:
- On March 16, 2020, the State ordered the closure of education and teaching establishments;
- The 2nd school term ended with the adaptation of the entire educational community to a new reality of contact between school / student / families, with reinforcement of acquired learning, without place for new curricular contents;
- The State determined the continuity of the school year, with the beginning of the 3rd term, on the 14th of April, through non-classroom teaching, for all students of basic education, and it is yet to be defined how it will take place for the secondary education;
- The Group of Schools in the municipality of Torres Vedras prepared their E-Learning Plans, following the guidelines of the Ministry of Education, to implement them in partnership with the Municipality, under the terms of the applicable legislation;
- A considerable part of the E-Learning Plans for School Groups implies the existence of computer equipment and internet access in the homes of their students;
- Through a survey carried out by the School Groups, it was identified that not all students have the necessary means, namely, there are about 500 students without internet and / or 850 students without access to a computer, or other device equivalent, which allows audio and visual contact with teachers and classmates, among other tasks within the scope of school work to be developed;
- Without the existence of such equipment, students who do not have the means to allow access to E-Learning are disadvantaged in their homes;
- The Municipality of Torres Vedras, through the Municipal Program of Extraordinary Support within the scope of COVID-19 - Notice no. 45/2020 - specifically in Axis 1 - Support to Families, decided, as a support measure, to grant, by way of loans, computer equipment and Internet access for students who do not have these means;
- The School Groups and the Municipality have a plan for the loan of equipment and access to the Internet to students who do not have these skills in their homes, through the use of existing computer equipment in schools;
- The existing equipment in schools is not able to respond to the total number of students who need computer equipment and / or the Internet, with the Municipality supplying these needs through the acquisition of 250 computers and up to 500 Internet accesses via bandwidth network mobile broadband;
Each School / School Group, through the head teacher and / or class director, identifies nominally all of its students who do not have access to a computer and / or internet in their homes. The Municipality and the Schools gathered all the possible equipment that could be given, including having resorted to the acquisition of new equipment (250) to respond to the students who needed them. The School Head Office provides the equipment to the students and maintains a permanent support of technical assistance to any needs that may occur. At the end of the school year, the equipment will be returned to their usual locations (classrooms, libraries, etc.), as well as the new laptops that have been purchased, which will thus have a 2nd function to reinforce the existing computer resources in schools.
It is intended that all students have equipment and internet access to be able to work in the 3rd school period, according to the E-Learning Plans defined by the School / School Groups, under the guidelines of the Ministry of Education.