Quality education for all during a time of national pandemic means that every student has the ability to get onto the internet for distance learning. It wasn’t that long ago when each student was given a book to take home and use, to care for and return at the end of the school year. Yesterday's books are today's laptops and tablets. Across the country, school districts are dealing with the new reality that not all of their students have access to the internet. Thanks to a lot of hard work and long term planning, Cortland Schools has been able to put a device able to connect to the internet and Google Classroom in each and every student's hands. The district has been on a 5-year plan using different funding sources to replace current laptops with Chromebooks. SSBA funding was used to purchase new Chromebooks for grades 1, 9, 10, 11 and 12. These arrived the second week of October.
It is extremely important that each student has their own device and that they don’t have to share it with a sibling. But, buying the computer is just the start of the work. Among the challenges districts are facing: making sure clear policies and procedures are in place for distribution, collection; and budgeting time and staff to inspect, repair, and sanitize the computers that might need to be fixed or that come back before they’re redistributed.
Recently, a new shipment of 800 Acer Chromebooks for students was delivered to Cortland Schools. District IT staff, along with Library Aides and Teaching Assistants, spent a couple of days getting the new devices unboxed, inventoried and assigned to students. The devices were then separated by In-Person Learners and Remote Learners homerooms. Information Systems Administrator Denise Fox said "remote learners were notified to come to the JSHS bus loop to swap out their heavy 6-year old laptop for a sleek new lightweight Chromebook. Students were sent a link to a slide presentation on "How To Use" the new Chromebook as well as what to do if and when they have an issue with the new device, directing them to the firstname.lastname@example.org email as well as the Tiger Tech phone number for support."