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D. 202 buys 10,000 laptops to help strengthen Remote Learning

District 202 will buy 10,000 laptops this summer for $4.05 million to help bolster the district’s Remote Learning system for next school year.

The Board of Education approved the purchase at its May 26, 2020 regular meeting.

The new laptops will be available for high school students to take home as needed. Or they could be combined with existing classroom computers to also provide enough laptops for middle school students to use at home.

“This purchase is a crucial step to help us build up our existing resources for Remote Learning,” said Dr. Glenn Wood, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Wood oversaw the district’s work this spring to quickly implement Remote Learning when the state closed schools in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

District 202 has been building its electronic learning system for a few years, Wood said, but had been focusing on providing adequate classroom technology first.

District 202 has bought over 8,000 laptops the past four years to significantly improve the student to device ratio at all levels and to ensure every elementary student can access a computer in the classroom.  The district had planned to shift next year to the middle and high schools.

Meanwhile the district focused on providing technical guidance, mentoring and professional development to ensure teachers could efficiently and effectively use technology in the classroom.

“It didn’t make a lot of sense to give students laptops if their teachers didn’t know how to incorporate them into their teaching,” Wood said.

Of course, the coronavirus changed everything for all 852 Illinois school districts.

“Even the districts that have given a laptop to all their students were prepared for maybe a couple of snow days of remote learning,” Wood said. “No one was prepared for four to eight weeks of it.”

Now the state is encouraging districts to plan for multiple scenarios for re-opening schools, incorporating remote learning to varying degrees.

District 202 has surveyed thousands of students, staff, and parents about their Remote Learning experience to help guide planning for next year, Wood said.

Along with the 10,000 new laptops, more than 80 District 202 teachers are helping design Remote Learning class plans, Wood said. Likewise, more than 1,000 teachers have already signed up for Remote Learning training this summer.

Meanwhile, District 202 administrators are fleshing out plans for three re-opening scenarios:

  • Opening as usual with appropriate social distancing, facemasks, and other health safeguards and facility modifications.
  • Opening schools with a limited number of students and staff in buildings and potentially using split schedules, alternating day schedules or some combination or hybrid.
  • Keeping schools closed and returning to total Remote Learning or distance learning.  

The district’s eventual decision will depend on state guidelines, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lane Abrell.

“We will do everything we can to continue teaching, learning and working in a safe environment based on the rules the state gives us,” he said. “Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”