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9.15.20 Tech Update

From Sunny Miller, Director of Tech and PD

NCSD Tech Update 9/15/2020

Our admin team, tech team, and staff are trudging through unprecedented waters and trying their best to build a plane while we are flying it. We are very thankful to all of you for your continued patience and grace as we make this thing work. Today was our third day of school and we have had a lot of successes. There are districts in our region that have not yet been able to bring students back and we are very proud and grateful that we have been able to open school for both in person and virtual students.

We know it is messy and we know that we have a lot of work to do. We are committed to making it work and know that things will get better each day. We take your students' education very seriously and want to be certain that you are aware that we are doing everything in our power to deliver. We can get through this together!

A few things we want to address specifically:

-Our teachers had four days of training before we opened our doors. There will be a learning curve for everyone as we operate in the Google platform. Some teachers are up and running, others will need time to wrap their arms around the newness and get acquainted with the perks of the platform. We are providing training weekly and will continue to grow our skill sets over the coming weeks. Our faculty is doing an amazing job, learning quickly, and working diligently to provide the best learning environment for our students.

-Most of our equipment in the district is aging and failing. We are working hard to get teachers what they need to teach, but the budget is tight and we just suffered a 20% cut in state aid (most of Newfield's aid comes from the state, so this hits us particularly hard). We have borrowed mics from BOCES and will be plugging holes and gaps as best we can in the short term. 

-Many teachers classrooms are not "set up" for remote teaching and video streaming. Often their boards are at the front of the room while their computer stations are on the other side of the room. We are working to get laptops to teachers, but again, there is a very limited supply. Rewiring classrooms to provide internet drops by their boards will take several months. Our long range plan is to provide mobile devices to teachers that can move with them as they teach. That, however, is not the current reality and for each device we deploy to a teacher, we have to subtract that from a device we can send to a family. It is a balancing act and we are working on it. No one could have predicted that we would be in the situation we are in with regard to our teaching and learning practices. We are working as quickly as possible to adjust and adapt.

-We are working very hard to get devices to families. The district did not have a 1:1 strategy (every student has their own device) and this generally takes 6 months to a year to develop and ready. The tech team has dug in and are hoping to have full deployment by the middle of October. Each one of the devices we have (again limited supply) have to be re-imaged and set up with filtering and management systems. This takes a great deal of time and the tech team is working night and day to get us to where we need to be with devices. There are four of us for the 1000+ members of our learning community.

-Devices for virtual families are being readied now and we hope to get them out to families in need very soon. We have very limited mobile devices for families and will be breaking down and sending out computers from our computer labs to help bridge some of the gaps. The Chromebooks that are on order have not come in and likely will not in the near future. This is again a reality we could not have prepared for. Mr. Hartz reached out to the other districts in the region and was able to get 60 Chromebooks from Groton for the short term until ours arrive. These will be sent out soon. When the Chromebooks we ordered arrive, they will go first to High School students, then MS students. This will mean that we can shift other mobile devices from those grade levels to areas of need. Again, 1:1 was not a vision in the district but the pandemic has made it a necessity. We are asking again for patience as we move quickly to get families what they need and hope that those of you that have devices can hold on while we work on it.

Again, thank you for your patience as we work through our new learning paradigm together.

Please feel free to visit our web page with resources for parents and students: ncsdgoesgoogle.com