The Russell County School District plans to move forward with its initial plans to start school later this month virtually, but Russell County Schools Superintendent Michael Ford said Monday evening that the plan for each student in the district to have a device is going to be delayed until at least mid-September.
Ford, speaking during the district’s board of education meeting Monday evening, said he and the district’s Chief Information Officer, Chris Bell, had spoken with the vendor that is supplying the HP Chromebooks and due to several factors, the shipment of Chromebooks will not be arriving until next month. The Chromebooks were ordered at the beginning of June, Ford said.
“Due to the pandemic and production delays, along with the demand globally for Chromebooks because of the pandemic, we were told today that our Chromebooks would not be here until mid-to-late September,” Ford told WJRS News.
The school district was able to purchase the Chromebooks through federal funding from the CARES Act, which passed earlier this year. As part of that legislation, funds were made available for school districts to purchase necessary technology and equipment for distance learning to deal with the pandemic. Demand for HP Chromebooks like the school district purchased has soared as school districts across the country have purchased Chromebooks in bulk to provide that technology for students.
Now faced with a delay, Ford said the school district is working to make the best of the situation.
“Our teachers have been calling students today and what we’re asking families to do is if they have a device, whether that be a laptop, desktop, iPad, tablet, or smartphone, any of those devices will run Google Classroom,” Ford said. “We’re going to ask families to allow students in their home to share those devices.”
Ford added that the district will work with families who do not have any compatible device in their home.
“If a family does not have a device at all, thankfully, we do have several hundred Chromebooks already here in the district that we are using, so hopefully we have enough that we can get those out to the families that do not have a device at all,” Ford said.
If there aren’t enough Chromebooks, Ford said the district does have some desktop computers that could be sent out to families that do not have a device in their home.
“We want to make sure we do everything we can for students to be able to utilize Google Classroom until we get these Chromebooks in,” Ford said.