Reopening: Technology and Connectivity

Within five days of the closure of school buildings in March, the district mobilized an effort to identify households in need of technology and connectivity. The district created a uniform data-entry portal and connected to an SQL server backend, making our data store formal and longitudinal. A robust dashboard affords the district dynamic, granular access to household connectivity and device data. 

Staff members made direct personal contact with all student families and asked a series of questions focused on a range of topics. Very specific questions related to access to devices from home, and to reliable broadband Internet, were part of the survey. We recorded responses in a uniform format, allowing us to make use of the data in modeling.

Using the data gathered from the in-person outreach, the district provided more than 3,200 Chromebooks to student homes to meet the need. The district did not have the devices necessary at that time to provide a device to every individual student, so a device per household model was used. 

On March 26, we submitted a Smart School Investment Plan to acquire an additional 4,900 devices in order to provide a device for every student and instructional staff member. Additionally, we began an effort to acquire 600 mobile Internet hotspots to address the connectivity need. We deployed the mobile hotspots to all households in need by the end of April and we still have an inventory ready for deployment as needed.

The state approved our Smart Schools Investment Plan in late July. We are in the process of ordering devices to meet the remaining needs to close the digital divide in our school community. 

There is a strong likelihood that we will be able to take delivery of new devices by the end of September and have them deployed to students shortly after. Until we are able to meet the 1:1 model, we are prioritizing deployment of devices to students who will be participating in exclusive or majority remote instruction.

We will be performing outreach in August in order to update the data in our collection tool. This will continue to keep us informed as to the status of connectivity and access on an ongoing basis. 

The use of enhanced, blended learning models is the primary approach to affording synchronous and asynchronous instruction. These models are described in more detail for the elementary, middle and high school levels in the Teaching and Learning section of this plan.

In essence, there is a level of on-site contact and instruction in place for all students. In the event students are prevented from attending on-site, or there is a lack of access to devices or connectivity (both challenges the district is actively mitigating), there is a mechanism in place for distributing and collecting hard-copy lesson and assignment materials. These tangible assets will be evaluated in the same manner for evidence of learning and mastery.