How 2 districts hope to safeguard devices as demand surges

'We found out kids had too many apps on their iPad and were running out of storage space'
By: | July 21, 2021
Laptops are distributed prior to the 2020-21 school year in Clovis USD, which purchased 5,500 hotspots and distributed over 23,000 student device during pandemic. (Photo: Ron Webb/Clovis USD)Laptops are distributed prior to the 2020-21 school year in Clovis USD, which purchased 5,500 hotspots and distributed over 23,000 student device during pandemic. (Photo: Ron Webb/Clovis USD)

Richardson ISD near Dallas contracts with a private insurance contractor to cover take-home devices, but will cover half the annual $29 premium for students on reduced-fee lunch plans. Students who receive free lunch have the entire cost covered, Chief Technical Officer Henry Hall says.

The insurance policy is required for all take-home devices at the secondary level. If it is not paid, there is a limited amount of hardship funds that schools can use to cover non-payments. The district will attempt to recover costs from families when uninsured devices need repair.

Student-damaged device replacement averages around 3-5% annually.

Both the central office and each school use software to manage device inventory for the districtwide 1-to-1 program. Starting this year, devices will be attached to student information system profiles for tracking across all platforms.

The district also provides cases for every iPad and Chromebook. “Some campuses will offer contests to encourage non-breakage,” Hall says.

Hall’s team meets with staff from each school regularly to go over the numbers and provide assistance if damage or loss rates are spiking.

On the software side, the district has taken several steps to ensure students’ devices are functioning optimally.

“We found out kids had too many apps on their iPad and were running out of storage space,” Hall says. “We now have our own internal app store, and students can only pull down things that we allow them to download.”

More devices going home

Clovis USD in Central California was not 1-to-1 before the pandemic. When schools closed, the district provides laptops and hotspots to any families who need the technology, Chief Technology Officer Raj Nagra says.

The district purchased 5,500 hotspots and distributed over 23,000 student devices. Prior to COVID, students did not take devices home en mass so it instituted a $25 insurance fee during the pandemic. The fees are used to purchase replacement parts and new devices.

Clovis USD uses an inventory program that is part of its financial system to track tech assets. That is supplement this with internal systems to track any additional information needed and process repair tickets.

“If a computer is lost or damaged, we work with the school and impacted family to recoup costs whenever possible,” adds Kelly Avants, the district’s chief communications officer.


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