Apr 9, 2020

Letter to Elementary School Families Regarding Devices

Child on device image

Dear Elementary School families,

We wanted to take a minute to explain the technology decisions that were made by district leaders which impact our elementary school students. Pickerington Schools administrators believe that technology is a positive instructional tool for modern-day teaching and learning. Unfortunately, with our current set up of devices staying in carts at the elementary schools, there are numerous barriers to sending them home with students. We would like to outline a few of these technical and community-based barriers to explain why we will not be able to provide devices for elementary school students: 

  • On regular school days before the closure occurred, there were iPads for grades K-2 and Chromebooks for grades 3-4 stored in carts in each classroom. These iPad carts have unique power cords embedded directly into the cart and cannot be removed. Additionally, the Chromebook carts have a similar design which does not allow for the power cords to be easily removed. So, the devices are not functional if we send them home without a power cord.
  • A recent evaluation of our elementary devices found that some were not in peak condition and could deteriorate further if sent home.  Due to school closure and lack of parts, these repairs have not been completed. Most Chromebook parts are manufactured in China and unavailable at this time. We do not want to send damaged devices home with elementary school students because this would only amplify the stress that families are currently facing. We also do not want to charge any repair costs to parents since most elementary students do not have the PLSD Technology Protection Plan. 
  • Our other big concern is how to effectively hand out devices without mass gatherings. As the virus continues to peak, we need to make sure that we are being protective of our students, families and PLSD staff members. 
  • Additionally, in our last survey, a larger number of elementary school families responded that they do not have access to WIFI in their homes. PLSD only has about 75 remaining hotspots for PLSD families through our Every-1 Connected Program. We believe that if devices were sent home, we would have far more families needing WIFI then the 75 hotspots remaining.

Here are a few alternatives that elementary school students can do:

  • The instructional technology team continues to meet with the teaching and learning team and we all feel confident that the Blizzard Bags are of high-quality instructional materials. We thank our elementary instructional coaches for putting together great learning materials for our elementary students.
  • Students can access Classlink, i-Ready, ST Math, etc. on some tablets and most computers. 
    • iPads 
      • not iPad minis
      • iPads need to be running iOS 13
    • Android tablets
      • i-Ready cannot be accessed on an Android tablet
    • Chromebooks
    • Laptops and desktops that can run a modern browser (Chrome 65+, FireFox 60+)
    • ClassLink Log in Information for Home Access – To access these programs on a home device, students will need to download the appropriate apps, if you are using a tablet or iPad, and then log in through Classlink. If you are on a computer, you can access the Classlink website here.
      • Students will then need to log in with their PLSD Google account.
  • How to Add a User on a Chromebook – Additionally, if your elementary student has an older sibling, they can use their sibling’s Chromebook as well. On the Chromebook, you will just need to create a new user and enter the elementary student’s PLSD Google Account email and password.

We assure you that district leaders have extensively discussed, analyzed and weighed this decision before proceeding. We understand that these alternatives might not be ideal, but we believe that this is our best course of action based on the parameters and barriers we have encountered. Thank you and we hope that everyone is safe and healthy at home.