Advertisement
Share

Glendale public school students pick up loaner Google Chromebooks for at-home study

Parent Katerina Arsharuni, left, and eighth-grader Eleonora Kotandjian picked up a laptop from school staff at Hoover High School on Thursday.
Parent Katerina Arsharuni, left, and eighth-grader Eleonora Kotandjian picked up a laptop from school staff at Hoover High School on Thursday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

During Glendale Unified’s two-week school closure, district officials gradually figured out how to provide students with the top three 2020 essentials to get through the remaining weeks of the school year — food, internet access and a laptop.

While cafeteria workers assembled free meals for pick up, school staff also scheduled Google Chromebook pick-up locations throughout this week in preparation for schools to transition to a remote-learning model on Monday.

Students and their parents were instructed to show up at a school site on a specific day and at a specific hour depending on the first letter of a student’s last name to keep crowds at a minimum.

As a reminder of the required social distancing, tape was placed on the ground measuring 6-foot increments.

Prior to distribution, a team sanitized the Chromebooks and placed them in plastic bags. All staff and volunteers distributing the laptops, some of whom were members of the Glendale Police Department, used face masks and gloves.

Parents and students wait to pick up loaner laptops from school staff at Hoover High School in Glendale on Thursday.
Parents and students wait to pick up loaner laptops from school staff at Hoover High School in Glendale on Thursday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

Glendale Unified took inventory of internet access and technology in student households through an online survey.

Out of an estimated 17,000 responses submitted by Thursday afternoon, about 5,000 households indicated students did not have access to a computer and nearly 300 students didn’t have internet access at home.

Frank Schlueter, the district’s director of educational technology and information services, said school officials are still waiting for about 8,000 survey responses but used the information they had, so far, to organize distribution of digital devices.

Stepan Mekhitarian, the district’s assessment and accountability coordinator, said he anticipates the number of Chromebooks to be loaned to students could rise to 7,000.

He added that there will be additional opportunities on Saturday and Monday for parents to pick up devices.

One goal of Glendale Unified’s Local Control Accountability Plan is to maintain a three-to-one student ratio per Chromebook. More than 8,700 Chromebooks have already been purchased through the district’s General Fund.

Although the district is distributing Chromebooks from its existing inventory, Glendale Unified purchased hotspots for families who requested internet access.

Schlueter estimates the district spent $55,000 on Verizon hotspots, which are back-ordered. District officials expect to receive a shipment close to April 6 but recommended families consider Charter Communications’ offer for 60 days of free Spectrum broadband.

Hundreds of loaner laptops were ready for pickup during the Glendale Unified School District distribution of more than 5,000 Chromebooks to students who need technology at home for remote learning, at Hoover High School.
Hundreds of loaner laptops were ready for pickup during the Glendale Unified School District distribution of more than 5,000 Chromebooks to students who need technology at home for remote learning, at Hoover High School.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

Step-by-step guides and a phone hotline were created for teachers, principals, students and parents to get the devices up and running. Webinar training on how to use online platforms, like Google Classroom and Blackboard, was made available to teachers.

“This is an interesting time, where I’ve seen a lot of what I learned actually taking place around me at a very rapid pace,” Mekhitarian said. “And the question is, what will [classroom instruction] look like if all goes well and we return in the fall?”

He added, “Both students and teachers are going to have a lot of technical expertise that they didn’t have before. So how will we utilize those skills moving forward?”

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.


Advertisement