“Our audit shows the agency did not have consistent protocols in place to ensure that devices were distributed when they were needed most,” Stringer said. Yes, many of the students eventually got the devices, but only after unnecessary delays.

A key problem: To receive a city-funded iPad, families had to submit a request online or via the DOE helpdesk or 311. Parents and teachers complained throughout the pandemic that device requests went unanswered. As recently as March, 19,425 requests for tablets — of which about 16,000 dated back to 2020 — were still “under review.”

This despite the 2014 Smart Schools Bond Act, meant to help schools access high-speed broadband, expand learning outside classrooms and acquire new devices. Clearly, the DOE wasn’t up to that task even before the pandemic. And while it might have more devices now, don’t expect any new effort to shut down the schools again to produce any better outcomes for kids.

After all, most honest assessments rate the city’s COVID school closures an utter disaster. Kids — even those who had computer devices — largely lost out on a year of learning, and for no good reason except that the teachers’ unions preferred to keep their members at home; kids, after all, were never at any great risk from the coronavirus. Heaven help the kids if the union subjects them to any more remote “learning.”