Aiding students

Nick Barnhart at SEK Computers is making electronic access available to students in need.


A Chanute store plans to make computers available to low-income or underpriviledged students who otherwise would not have access for online classes.

SEK Computers owner Nick Barnhart said he is waiting on school districts to develop online programs in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Gov. Laura Kelly cancelled face-to-face classes for the rest of the school year and local districts extended their spring breaks by a week. Area districts have given themselves till March 30 to develop online programs.

Barnhart has operated SEK Computers in Chanute for six years and in Independence for three years. He plans to provide stations during business hours in the two locations for students who would not otherwise have access.

The plan is contingent on any outbreaks of the disease in the community. As of Thursday, one case was confirmed in Cherokee County, the only one in the nine southeast Kansas counties surrounding and including Neosho County.

Barnhart said he has 40 Chromebooks in reserve and students would be able to use his printers. He said he has a variety of Windows computers and some Macintosh. The computers are provided by wholesalers and have been re-certified with old data cleaned out, so they will work for students.

His showroom in Independence is larger than the one in Chanute, Barnhart said. He plans to have a dozen computers there and 10 to 15 in Chanute.

He said he wants to help any way he can.

“We’re trying to keep positive,” Barnhart said.

Before the pandemic, he had plans to open a location in Parsons and has secured a location. He said he hopes the situation will be resolved soon so that he may offer computers there, also.

He emphasized that students can use the computers as long as they are healthy.

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