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School boards deliver over 4,000 computers to students at home for online learning

Devices consisted of Chromebooks, iPads, HP netbooks and special education technology

The Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board have given thousands of devices to students to continue their education.

The UGDSB sent out 3,200 Chromebooks during the week of March 30 and April 3  after teachers in the school board called every single family of the 35,000 students in the board to determine if they needed a computer at home. The Chromebooks were part of an existing collection of technology used by students in the board throughout the year. 

“We know that not all families have access to devices, so by sending out Chromebooks, this ensured continuity of learning and a consistent device that the student would be familiar with,” said UGDSB communications officer Heather Loney. 

“We also recognized that many families that have a device could suddenly find that device in high demand as many parents and guardians began working from home.”

Last week, the WCDSB delivered 200 special education devices comprised of iPads and Chromebooks with vision and audio support devices based on student needs. They also distributed 394 devices comprised of 65 iPads and 329 HP Netbooks. While most of the devices were taken from schools, 100 were purchased for special programs.

“All 394 devices were wiped to ensure that there were no photographs, documents or other personal information on them,” said WCDSB IT manager Luis Gomes.

On April 21, the WCDSB  will distribute an additional  237 devices comprised of 75 iPads and 163 Netbooks with additional special education equipment. “We have students without devices at home and the only way they can continue with their education in the new normal is having some type of technology so they can go online,” said Gomes.

“Without a computer, your education is effectively dead.”

Both the school boards are using the technology as a way to adapt to the distance learning program by using online platforms such as Google Classroom and Google Sites among more. 

The UGDSB disinfected their Chromebooks, packaged them and had them couriered to students’ homes. 

“We have received lots of positive feedback from families and teachers who were eager to reconnect and engage in learning. We know that there are aspects of our distance learning program that we will continue to add to, the program will continue to evolve as the weeks progress,” said Loney. 

The WCDSB distributed the technology through a drive-through system where parents drove to their schools, staff identitifed parents and placed the devices into their car trunks. 

“We have also identified students without internet and worked with our telecommunication partners to procure cellular (LTE) internet wifi access points for these students,” said Gomes. 

“This is a need that has been discovered across the province and demand is extremely high but we have been lucky in being able to source these devices.”

Luis said the entire project was a team effort with  IT, SERTs, principals, vice principals, secretaries and administrators pitching in to help ensure that our students have the technology required to succeed in these difficult times.

“This planning started as soon as the shutdown of the boards was announced by the Ministry and a lot of effort and time went into ensuring equity across the district,” said Gomes.

“We only succeed if our students succeed.”


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Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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