A young boy participates in an online lesson for his kindergarten class while schools remain closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Chicago, Illinois, April 3, 2020. Interim Archives/Getty Images

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Illinois school leaders spent tens of millions of dollars within weeks as they scrambled to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and the abrupt school closures it triggered.

In a bid to roll out remote learning plans quickly, officials made rapid-fire buys even before the federal government promised $678 million in emergency aid for Illinois schools. In some of the largest school districts across the state, the bulk of the spending went toward thousands of laptops and tablets.

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