PAYETTE — With the shape of learning in a classroom setting in public and private schools having changed this year due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, so to has the delivery method.
Payette High School in line with new criteria detailed by the State Department of Education on Monday opted to do a soft opening for those students struggling with distance learning.
For the students having to turn to online and distance learning to finish the year, laptop computers have become somewhat of a necessity for learning.
Payette School District Superintendent Robin Gilbert explained in an email on Monday afternoon that Idaho Business for Education and a representative from Hewlett-Packard have done a great deal to bring the computer donation initiative to rural schools in an effort to “fill the gap for children.”
“They seek computer donations from businesses — these are computers that [are] set aside because they have been replaced, but they have data that would need to be cleaned before discarding or donating. HP has created a quick system that, using a USB port, does an HP quality data clean then installs a browser and Zoom. This works fine for our students to access our Learning Management System (Canvas), their school email which is through Google, and any other web-based resources,” explained Gilbert.
Gilbert said that the machines are sanitized before the data scrubbing process and then loaded with the necessary software before being distributed.
“Payette received 100 laptops that had been donated by Albertsons and then cleaned, loaded and delivered by Kendall Cares, Delta Dental and IBE,” Gilbert said.
She added that any Idaho student, who is in need is eligible to receive a computer from IBE.
The laptop donations also serve a dual purpose as the delivery of education will be undergoing changes in Idaho.
“The State Board of Education, in their meeting yesterday, spoke of the vision for blended learning in the future (live and virtual learning combined.) They do not see the need for student connectivity and devices to end when school lets out for the summer,” wrote Gilbert in a follow-up email message sent on Tuesday afternoon.
Without specifying a number, she said that many more computers are still needed in Payette and across the state, and encouraged other businesses to consider making a donation, as well.
“The other thing families learned from the stay at home order was that they initially indicated that their child had computer access. But when the whole family is home and they have one or two devices, not everyone can get their work done,” Gilbert wrote. “Almost every student needs a device to learn from home, not one per family.”