Goal is to ‘ensure every child who needs a computer has access to one’
August 5, 2020 – Parents and guardians of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) students who need a computer or Wi-Fi hotspot for the upcoming school year can request one through a new webpage that also includes important information about the first day of school, JCPS officials announced today.
JCPS anticipates distributing up to 30,000 additional Chromebooks and up to 10,000 internet hotspots to promote a 1-to1 student-to-instructional device ratio for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
“Our goal is to ensure that every child who needs a computer has access to one,” said JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio. “Providing these digital resources districtwide is a bold initiative, but I believe it is absolutely critical in creating equitable, engaging learning opportunities and experiences for all our students. This will help bridge the gap between in-person instruction and learning from home.”
Beginning Monday, families can request a device or an internet hotspot by visiting the JCPS website and filling out a request form. Families will need to put in their email address or phone number that matches district records, and answer a few questions. Also starting Monday, families without internet access and the ability to submit an online request form can contact their child’s school or the JCPS call center at 313-HELP (4357).
Individual schools will notify families within a couple of weeks if their Chromebook or Wi-Fi hotspot request is approved and handle distribution of the devices.
When the district shifted to Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) in March, JCPS distributed nearly 20,000 Chromebooks to students who met needs-based criteria, with a limit of one device per household. Now, the district will seek to provide a Chromebook to any student without access to a personal computer, laptop or tablet.
“One of the challenges of NTI in the spring was families with multiple children sharing one device,” Dr. Kermit Belcher, JCPS chief information officer, said. “As we work to make NTI 2.0 more robust for students, we will be providing multiple devices to households with more than one student, if there is a need.”
Students who received a device last school year can reuse it during this year’s NTI 2.0, and families with an adequate number of computers to accommodate their children’s school needs are asked to not request devices, to ensure there are enough for students truly in need.
District officials said the initiative will promote a more rigorous learning environment for students during NTI 2.0.
“A more structured school day can be expected in NTI 2.0 but it is not our goal for students to be sitting in front of a computer screen all day,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Carmen Coleman. “We want to spark learning and creativity in this virtual space. While there will be more structure, we are also going to be flexible so we can be there for our families.”
The 2020-21 school year for JCPS starts Tuesday, Aug. 25.