Computers in demand as Yukon students, employees work from home

While some businesses are shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic, others are as busy as ever — ask Trevor Mead-Robins who owns MEADIAsolutions, a Whitehorse computer store.

“The demand for sales and service has been high,” he said.

He said business started to pick up weeks ago, as more people began working from home. It picked up further a couple of weeks ago when Yukon’s Education Department announced that classroom learning was cancelled for the rest of the school year. Teachers would find alternative ways to guide learning, such as through online lessons.

“The demand has continued to stay high. And we’re trying to accommodate those individuals that have students at home,” Mead-Robins said.

Mead-Robins was a teacher for 23 years, so he’s been able to draw on that experience to help people get what they need.

“I have my education background as well as my technological background, and it’s really rewarding to be able to put the two together, to help teachers, to help students — and we’ve actually had both coming in for support,” he said.

He figures computer sales at his shop are up more than 30 per cent over this time last year.

“There’s been demand across the board,” he said.

Ean McDonald, manager of Computers for Schools Yukon, is also dealing with a lot of demand. The government-funded program refurbishes donated surplus computers to give away or sell at low cost. Desktop computers are free; laptops go for $75 to $150.

Used computers being refurbished at Computers For Schools Yukon. (Submitted by Ean McDonald)

Requests have to come through teachers or school administrators, though. The program can’t sell directly to the general public in competition with private retailers.

“Right now, we have applications for probably 30 or so work orders, and each one those could be anywhere between one computer up to like 10. So I don’t have an exact count, but there’s a lot waiting,” McDonald said.

Fortunately, the program has had a lot computers on hand so it can meet the demand.

“We do have more laptops than we’ve ever had before. As luck would have it, the timing of getting a big shipment in from the federal government coincided with this need,” he said.

Part of the work refurbishing the computers now is cleaning them off well, before sending them out. Keyboards are tricky, McDonald said “because of all the nooks and crannies.”

‘Right now, we have applications for probably 30 or so work orders,’ said Ean McDonald, with Computers For Schools Yukon. (Submitted by Ean McDonald)

“So for anybody getting a computer, we always encourage them to keep washing their hands.”

He’s also urging anybody waiting for a computer to be patient right now. Program staff are the busiest they’ve ever been, all while trying to mitigate COVID-19 risk in their own workplace and avoid taking on new staff. 

“We apologise for the wait but we’re attacking this thing head on,” he said.

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