“Pine Cove did a great job during our transition to distance learning. Within two weeks, we had every single student grades 3-12 with a device and with service," said Superintendent Pete Kilbride. "It was a coordinated effort between our principals and Pine Cove that made that happen. We were able to begin delivering educational services on day one when we began our distance learning plan.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had crippling effects on many organizations throughout the country. With the uncertainty of when things will return to normal, organizations have had to grapple with remote working. For some organizations this transition has been smooth, and other organizations have had to roll out massive changes that have brought unique challenges of their own. School districts have had some of the toughest challenges as they try to transition to remote learning.
Schools across the country had to figure out how to finish the 2019-2020 school year, many opting to go virtual. Now, as schools debate reopening strategies, some schools are more prepared than others. One of our partner schools, Sheridan County School District #1 has been an example during the transition to remote learning.
Viewed by some in Wyoming as the leader when it comes to technology implementation, Sheridan County School District #1 was as prepared as you could be for something like COVID-19. We wanted to share their story in hopes that it will aide other school administrators (or business owners for that matter) who are looking to implement cutting-edge technology for their districts.
Technology Initiatives Prior to COVID
Sheridan County School District #1 had previously transitioned to a one-to-one school by giving all students, 6th grade and up, a Chromebook. Many districts view the transition to a one-to-one environment as difficult and costly. They aren't wrong. However, Chromebooks can be an affordable alternative to laptops or other endpoint devices. Also, the benefits of being prepared in the event of something like COVID are worth noting. Schools that are being forced to make the transition now are struggling building out the process and obtaining adequate inventory for the demand.
One of the obstacles Sheridan County School District #1 had to overcome with the transition to a one-to-one Chromebook environment was its applications. To make Chromebooks a realistic option, the district transitioned to web-based programs.
The district also used Clever to create a single sign-on for access to most all of the programs the district uses.
Technology Initiatives During COVID
Once COVID hit, the district began addressing additional issues brought on by remote learning. One of the main issues was connectivity. For houses without connectivity, the district supplied at home Verizon cards or hot spots. If a home didn't have a device or need a device replaced, the district used the transportation department to transport devices to and from students.
Another challenge was technology support. The district had previously trained teachers on technology troubleshooting which meant staff members were fairly self-sufficient on troubleshooting issues they encountered. Pine Cove Consulting worked with the district to build a website that identified common technology issues encountered by staff and students. You can view that here: https://technology.sheridan.k12.wy.us/
Navigating more serious technology issues was a bottleneck that had to be addressed too. Prior to remote learning, the tech team had to manage one centralized network. Now that students are learning remotely, the tech team had to work in the networks of each of the students households (1000+). Pine Cove Consulting and the district tag teamed these more serious technology issues and would provide remote technology support.
Certainty there will continue to be issues that Pine Cove and Sheridan County School District #1 will encounter this fall. However, having implemented a one-to-one environment previously and contracting with a trusted IT provider, helped the district navigate the change smoothly.
If you need help with your transition to remote learning, or remote work in general, we can help. Sign up for a free IT assessment and we will work with you to craft a plan that works for you and allows the administration to focus less on the technology and more on the students.