A family picking a Chromebook at Athens Middle School. [Picture Courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe]

Athens City School District Provides Students Thousands of Computers

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ATHENS, Ohio – Students missing out on traditional in-class schooling due to the stay-at-home order now have access to education again, this time virtually thanks to the distribution of around 2,000 Chromebooks by Athens City Schools.

Most of the Chromebook distributions came via pick-ups last week; however, families that could not pick up the Chromebooks are still being delivered the devices to their homes.

Athens Middle School was one of the three drive-through locations for Chromebook pick-ups [Picture Courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe]
These door-to-door Chromebook deliveries were conducted bus drivers, teachers and even superintendent Tom Gibbs himself.

Gibbs said he is open to be the delivery guy if students’ access to education is at stake.

“If I need to put some on the back of my vehicle and drive out to someone’s house to make the student get access to education, then that’s what we do,” he said.

It took less than 30 seconds on average for parents to pick-up the computers. The pick-up included stopping at the pick-up point, getting the Chromebook registered and collecting the device.

School employees distributing Chromebooks took precautions like wearing gloves and sanitizing each device before the distribution.

Athens Middle School principal Kara Bolin said the Chromebooks will allow students to get back on track.

“I think that they are ready to reconnect with their teachers,” she said. “I know a lot of them are probably missing school, which is probably a surprise to them, but I think they are going to be relieved to have some structure and some communication with their teachers.”

Athens Middle School employee registering a Chromebook for a student. [Picture Courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe]
The school district also planned to distribute mobile hotspots on April 1. Due to shipment overload and spotty supply-chain, the district had not yet received the delivery order by Thursday. Gibbs said he expected to receive the order on April 1 and hopes to get the hotspots before Monday, April 6.

Around 16% of school students have limited or no internet access so the district is preparing to provide 260 mobile hotspots which will help about 400 students get access to online lessons.

All devices owned by the school district will be automatically directed through its cloud-based internet content filters. This prevents students from being exposed to inappropriate content; however, Gibbs said that adult supervision is recommended as child-filters are not 100% effective.

Online teaching begins next week.

Update on free meal deliveries

Owing to the coronavirus spread and the rapid increase in positive cases in the state of Ohio, ACSD is revising its daily meal home-delivery system.

Instead of delivering meals every day, the school district will provide three days of meals per one home delivery. On Thursday, students were home-delivered meals for three days.

This revision conforms with the practice of social distancing and should mitigate social interactions and possibly the spread of coronavirus.