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East Grand Rapids Public Schools

Tradition of Excellence

Technology and Connectivity

Technology and Connectivity

Consistent student access to reliable computer devices and internet connection is an important requirement to every aspect of the Return to Learning Plan.  Teachers and students will depend on these technology tools in varying degrees depending on the MI Safe Start Phase the district is operating under at any given time.  The district is well positioned for the various scenarios given the prior commitment to the Engage 1:1 program over the last decade, and the successful 2014 bond that supported robust purchases of student devices K-5. While the pandemic has created disruptions and shortages in the marketplace for new device purchases, this plan incorporates utilizing our existing “Bring Your Own Device” model at grades 6-12 to ensure adequate devices can support the plan. The following information details the basic organizational needs and specific plans for devices at the elementary and secondary levels depending on the MI Safe Start Phase.

Resource Limitations

The district does not presently own enough devices to provide every child with a device at home. The district has placed an order for additional devices to supplement our current fleet of 1400 devices; however, it is possible these additional devices will not be delivered until after the start of the school year. Expanding the district fleet of devices to 2900 would be significantly cost prohibitive even if such quantities were available. The district is confident, however, that the combination of our grades 6-12 “Bring Your Own Device” model combined with our elementary classroom device carts will provide adequate resources for success in each phase.     

Phase Specific Details

The following outlines the various phase specific plans by school level:

Elementary School Students Grades K-5

Collecting Elementary Family Device Needs
Understanding the needs of elementary families will be essential to developing an organized distribution plan and ensuring adequate support can be provided if the district is required to rapidly change phases as a result of an executive order, local health department directive, or district decision to temporarily close a school or the entire district. Therefore, all elementary families will be surveyed during the registration process to gather how their students will utilize the various options available by phase and level.
Phases 1-3
In Phases 1-3, schools are closed and E-Learning will occur at home. Devices normally used at school may be temporarily checked out for use at home if a family does not have a device available to support the E-Learning plan. Pre-registration for checkout is required and families are responsible for lost or damaged devices. Depending on the timing and circumstances of the district going into Phase 3 or below, the process for picking up the device will be communicated to families at that time. Distribution of devices might involve students carrying the device home from school at the end of a school day or parents picking up the device from their child’s school during a specific window of time. The scale and pragmatics of a large scale distribution program can be challenging and it would be the goal to distribute devices to all families within 2 weekdays or less.
When the district transitions from Phase 3 to Phase 4, the checked out device will need to be returned for in school use on the day in-person instruction resumes. 
Phases 4-5
In Phases 4 and 5, elementary students will attend school in cohorts. Each child will be assigned a school owned computer device that is used exclusively by them throughout the school day. This device will be checked out to each student using our inventory database at the beginning of the school year to support the program. If a device needs repair, the replacement device used by the student will be cleaned immediately before being used according to standard cleaning procedures for computer equipment. These school owned devices will remain in classroom carts consistent with pre-pandemic practices. Similarly, any homework assigned would be completed using a family owned device.
If a short-term school closure occurs for any reason, an individual analysis of the circumstances of the closure’s expected length will occur and a determination of whether a device distribution to families is warranted. In general, if a closure of 2 days or less is announced, a device distribution would likely not be scheduled. Conversely, a closure of more than 3 days would lead to a distribution process being mobilized. Such procedures, times, and locations would be communicated directly to families when decisions are made. When the short-term closure concludes, school owned devices need to be returned the day in-person instruction resumes and would remain at school going forward.
It is important to remember that the above short-term closure scenarios are examples only and the actual operating conditions will be assessed at the time to make distribution determinations using the best available information.    
Phase 6
In Phase 6, technology procedures would return to what they were pre-pandemic. Any structural changes that might be considered due to the present operating conditions would be considered and communicated at that time.
Changes in Family Device Circumstances
A family that begins the year using a district device at home may elect to discontinue participation in the district device program at any time. Conversely, a family that begins the year using a family owned device may opt into the district device program at any time. Elementary families should email any time a change is needed.

Secondary Students Grades 6-12

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program
The nearly decade old district Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program remains an integral part of the district’s technology plan. Starting in 6th grade, all students start to carry their own device back and forth between school and home on a daily basis. Most commonly, these devices are existing family devices or devices purchased by families for this purpose. Every family also has the option to participate in the District Device Program. The process for participating in the District Device Program for the 2020-21 school year has already been communicated to all families and remains unchanged. Families interested in this program can learn more by following this link: District Device Program.   
Phases 1-3
In Phases 1-3, schools are closed and E-Learning will occur at home. Students will use their “Bring Their Own Device” or District Device Program device to participate in E-Learning.
Phases 4-5
In Phases 4-6, a variety of schedule formats may occur. Regardless of whether the format is a hybrid schedule, full in-person schedule, or temporary closure situation, students will use their “Bring Their Own Device” or District Device Program device to support in-person instruction or E-Learning.  
Phase 6
In Phase 6, technology procedures would return to what they were pre-pandemic. Any structural changes that might be considered due to the present operating conditions would be considered and communicated at that time.

Pioneer Virtual Learning Plan 

Families opting to participate in the Pioneer Virtual Learning plan will have access to the District Device Program consistent with all students. Families will be surveyed about their device needs as part of the Pioneer Virtual Learning sign-up process. District devices will require parents/guardians to sign a device agreement and accept responsibility for loss or damages.

Internet Connectivity

Reliable internet is a critical component to ensuring that hybrid and E-Learning days are successful for all students. The district surveyed families extensively during the spring of 2020 to ensure every family had internet access. These surveys and follow-up phone calls confirmed a response for every student enrolled in the district. The registration process for the 2020-21 school year will again assess family internet access and the district will further support all families in need. This support may include consultation about internet options, district device troubleshooting, and an internet connection scholarship if needed.  Families may email throughout the year to make inquiries regarding these supports or to communicate changes in status. If email is unavailable, please call your building administrator and they will facilitate the start of the process.