Good morning Doss parents and community. Please see below for updates from the technology department. I apologize in advanced for the lengthy update.
Equity in Technology Access
We are empathizing with and designing processes that serve our most historically marginalized students and families, with the expectation that these solutions will also serve all stakeholders. We want our solutions to work for all families, starting with those who are economically disadvantaged, those who receive special education services, those who primarily speak another language, those with limited access to technology (including email), those who do not use cars, those who have a range of work schedules, those in impermanent housing, etc. Our systems are not perfect, and we are constantly iterating in order to improve. We welcome continued feedback in these efforts.
New Technology Request Process for Families
Families who do not have Internet access can request technology using paper forms in person on almost all Austin ISD campuses on August 3-6, from 9-11 and 1-3, during Curbside registration being offered by the Student Data Services department, in collaboration with campus clerks. (Doss families should go to Murchison and Bear Creek families should go to Kiker.)
On those days, families can complete a paper form (available in English and Spanish) to request Chromebooks, iPads, and/or hotspots for their students. Staff will also be able to use the Language Line interpreter service to communicate with families who speak languages other than English or Spanish. Master copies of these paper forms will be available from our front office folks. Parents can begin requesting WiFi hotspots (along with their other technology needs) on Monday, July 27, using the new form in the Parent Cloud. After logging in to the Parent Cloud, families should search for “Technology Distribution” and the tile for the form should appear.
Families must respond either using the paper form or using the Technology Distribution form in the Parent Cloud, in order to receive an Austin ISD device. The tile includes links to the Acceptable Use Policy and the Austin ISD Everyone:1 handbook, and families are asked to confirm that they have read them and agree to them. We know that some families have completed multiple surveys and may not yet have received the technology they requested. One crucial reason for this is that many families do not have accurate contact information in our systems. Many deliveries could not be fulfilled because the family’s information was incorrect. The new Technology Distribution tile, as well as the paper version, includes the opportunity to correct address information for the purposes of delivery. This will not change their official registration address, as that process requires submitting documentation to the school office.
How and When Will Students Receive WiFi Hotspots
Three thousand of the 10,000 ordered WiFi hotspots have been received and are being prepared for distribution beginning the first week of August. We are in the process of ordering 5,000 more.
The first phase of WiFi hotspot distribution begins August 3-6, aligned with Curbside paper registration services, from 9-11 and 1-3. Only requests that were submitted prior to July 23 will be fulfilled during this first phase, and we are prioritizing students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and those who receive special education services. We are also trying to ensure that families with multiple students receive hotspots that have higher bandwidth, although those supplies are limited. Also, please note that each family will only receive one, regardless of the numbers of students in the family. After those students have been served, hotspots will go to other students who requested access in the spring. Exact dates will be shared soon. For WiFi distribution the week of August 3-6, families should be encouraged to go to the school at which their student is enrolled, if at all possible. Families should be prepared to provide their name, student ID number, and current address, so that the correct device is provided to the family. Families who do not have Internet access can go in person on these days and complete a paper form (available in English and Spanish) to request Chromebooks, iPads, and/or hotspots for their students. Staff will also be able to use the Language Line interpreter service to communicate with families who speak languages other than English or Spanish.
If families are able to access the Parent Cloud (using their phones, for example), they can begin requesting WiFi hotspots (along with their other technology needs) on Monday, July 27, using the new form in the Parent Cloud. After logging in to the Parent Cloud, families should search for “Technology Distribution” and the tile for the form should appear.
WiFi distribution will continue over the first three weeks of August, and further distribution plans will be shared in PWs and in the Austin ISD Staff Guide to Technology Requests and Distribution. We are also looking into using a delivery service such as FedEx or UPS for families who are unable to come to a pick-up location for devices.
How Students Will Receive Chromebooks and iPads
Note: Making technology request (either in the Cloud or by calling) does NOT mean that devices will be available immediately. We are still waiting for devices to arrive, and we are finalizing the dates and locations for device distribution. Most likely, distribution will take place at one of the following:
- The Austin ISD “Computer Curbside” locations
- One of several predetermined middle schools, in order to provide easier access within neighborhoods. (We will be emailing several Middle School Principals directly to coordinate this.)
Timeline for Device Distribution
Device distribution will occur in staggered schedules starting in mid-August, for two reasons. First, the orders for 24,000 iPads and 9,000 Chromebooks have not yet arrived, or are delayed–more on that below. (Some have arrived in our distribution centers and are being prepared for students, a process that takes time.) The second reason we are beginning in mid-August is that after consultation with the Schools Office, it was determined that there is a preferred time window in which registrations and withdrawals may begin to stabilize, lowering the risk of loss and increasing the chance of reaching the students enrolled with need.
WiFi hotspot distribution will start first, in early August. Our distributor has shared that iPads will be delivered for either campus distribution or tech department distribution the first week of school. Chromebook inventory fluctuates depending on: the numbers of graduating students who turn them in, devices that are still being collected from schools, and repairs. Small numbers of Chromebooks will continue to be available on a rolling basis.
Chromebook inventory is delayed due to increased demand nationwide, and the large new order of 9,000 may not be ready for distribution until October. In general, this will likely impact third grade, since second graders were not able to opt in last year, and students in Pre-K through second grade will be receiving iPads. There may be additional students at other grades who do not have device access during the first days/weeks of school, and these will be handled on a grade by grade basis with further direction forthcoming from the Department of Academics. The District will be communicating directly with campuses regarding at-home curriculum, as needed. As we receive Chromebooks, distribution will also be prioritized for students who are economically disadvantaged and those who receive special education services.
Parent Cloud Accounts
Please encourage your families to set up their Parent Cloud accounts, if they have not already done so. You can generate a report of those students using the TEAMS report called “No Parent Cloud Acct AISD.” School office staff may use the Fast Pass tile in their AISD Cloud to send an email to parents with a link that will help parents create their account more easily. School staff should contact Parent Support for help using this tool. You may also direct families to the “Parent Cloud Account Creation” button at my.austinisd.org. They can also contact the Parent Support line for assistance at 512-414-9187, Option 6. (Parent Cloud accounts are also necessary for online registration.)
It is not mandatory that families accept an Austin ISD device for use at home. We know some families will want to use their own. For grades 3-12, that decision may not impact instruction as much, since the way students use a Chromebook is based on an Internet browser that will respond similarly, regardless of the device they are using. For iPads, however, it will be easier for teachers if families use the District iPads. Please help families of students in PreK to second grade understand the benefits, which are also clearly explained in the Parent Cloud tile:
- District devices will come prepared with the software your student needs for school.
- Teachers can remotely change settings on Austin ISD devices to make it easier for your students to access their learning materials.
- They come in a durable, protective case, appropriate for their particular grade.
- District devices can be updated and software can be maintained remotely. They also come with a warranty for free repairs through the district, as well as insurance for accidental damage. (also true for Chromebooks)
- Austin ISD computers have Internet filtering in place to ensure your student’s safety online. (also true for Chromebooks)
Lost and Stolen Devices
We are working on a new system for reporting lost and stolen devices.
The Chromebooks issued to seniors who graduated or just completed summer school have been disabled, and now display a message telling them to return the Chromebooks to an AISD Computer Curbside location.
Communicating this Information to Families
The District will convey this information to families via SchoolMessenger (email and robocall), social media, community organizations, and Austin ISD website updates.