How to ensure digital equity remains a priority
As schools reopen, district leaders and their teams will have to consistently track which students need devices and reliable, high-speed connections at home.
In the Mount Greylock Regional School District in western Massachusetts, principals and library media specialists reached out to families to determine who needed adequate technology, says Eileen Belastock, the CTO and director of academic technology.
The pandemic has made digital equity a No. 1 priority in many districts, says Belastock, a Future of Education Technology® Conference 2020 presenter on data privacy and student engagement.
“I hope it will continue to be in the forefront. I’m concerned that, once this is over, schools are going to take back hotspots and take back devices, and go back to the way it was before.”
Going forward, she advises, school leaders should continue offering any PD teachers have received in online instruction over the last few months, and guide families as students use new online platforms such as Zoom and Google Classroom.
For example, before districts adopt certain free online resources, educators and families need to determine whether those tools protect students’ privacy.
“We have to see this as not just a coronavirus issue,” Belastock says. “A silver lining is that this will show us what we have not done in online learning.”
Read the other stories in our series on rural school districts and the challenges of COVID:
- Sunray ISD accelerates shift to self-paced learning
- Gilmer County Schools pick up STEAM
- Why PD is key to rural tech integration
- Overcoming college access issues in rural districts
- How rural schools seized opportunity from school closures