Springfield School Committee analyzes technology updates – Reminder Publications

Science & Technology

Dec. 22, 2021 | Matt Conway

The Springfield School Committee discusses COVID-19 updates.
Photo Credit: Focus Springfield
SPRINGFIELD – With technology taking greater precedent in schools, the Springfield School Committee analyzed updates to the district’s integration of modern technology.
Chief Information and Accountability Officer Paul Foster showcased a presentation detailing the district’s efforts to provide every student with laptops for educational use. In the wake of the pandemic, Foster said Springfield distributed a laptop to every student, with students receiving the next available laptop whether it be new or used. The program initially charged a fee, but the program has since become free for all students, according to Foster.
While the program has been successful so far, Foster detailed challenges that have emerged from the program. He shared that students lack a “sense of ownership,” over their devices, with many receiving an older or slightly damaged computer. “Currently in the program, the students receive the next available laptop. It might be new or used,” said Foster.
He also discussed the high rate of laptop damage, as the district incurred around 9,500 computers that needed extensive repairs.
To mitigate growing concerns, Foster shared a revision that would be implemented for the 2022-2023 school year. Students would instead receive brand new devices in second grade, sixth grade and ninth grade, with that computer being their sole responsibility over that academic period, according to Foster. “The value there is we can say to students ‘this is your laptop’ for elementary, middle school and high school respectively,” said Foster.
Foster said the program may take some time to implement, but highlighted the district’s extensive effort to keep tabs on technology. The district is using a sticker system to indicate what year each laptop is purchased, according to Foster. “We’re keeping the movement of devices and making sure students always have a device that’s within a four-year life cycle,” said Foster.
At-Large School Committee Member and Technology Subcommittee President Latonia Naylor spoke positively about the program. “I do love this idea of bringing some type of systematic approach to it, so everybody knows how to do this effectively and equitably,” said Naylor.
COVID-19 Update
Due to a noticeable increase in COVID-19 cases, Superintendent Daniel Warwick shared that the district will be utilizing the National Guard to assist Cambridge Innovation Center in their test and stay program. The superintendent said the National Guard would be brought to city by the end of the Dec. 17 week, remaining in the district for the rest of the school year.
Mayor Domenic Sarno discussed the byproduct of the case increase, recognizing the distinct vaccine gap between youth and older citizens. “We’re catching up with our students, that’s where the delta is,” Sarno.
Warwick further stressed the importance of improving vaccinations as COVID-19 cases surge. “We can do all the mitigation strategies, but the vaccination piece is the key … We will be able to move forward in a safer manner as soon as we can get that executed, but that’s a challenge for us. We are going to need everybody’s help for that,” said Warwick.
The Springfield School Committee will meet again on Jan. 3.
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