NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — During the 2020-2021 school year, Newport News Public Schools is expanding its one-to-one technology initiative to provide a Chromebook for every student in kindergarten through 12th grade to support learning in-person and online.
The school division is issuing close to 20,000 laptops. Administrators had to order about 15,000 additional devices for the start of the school year. This way, students will be able to interact with their teachers.
Data from the State and the City indicates that approximately 20% of the families in Newport News may not have reliable access to the Internet. A spokeswoman said their own experiences following the COVID-19 closures confirmed those estimates.
The division ordered 4,000 hot spots for families, and may order more.
Understanding that students must be able to connect to the Internet before they engage in virtual learning , NNPS will launch a "Connected @Home" program, which will allow NNPS families to request assistance in getting connected to the Internet so their children can participate in virtual learning. Eligible families may receive a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot that includes an unlimited data plan and stringent content filtering to keep our students safe online or no-cost options to connect to the Internet. Families not meeting the eligibility requirements for no-cost Internet can still receive assistance in applying for low-cost Internet solutions such as Cox Connect2Compete.
"We're in the process of creating a screening program to identify those families who have a need for a hot spot, because a Chromebook without internet is no good," Supervisor of Technical Support for Newport News Public Schools Anthony Rice said.
Rice added they will implement a call center Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to assist students with Chromebook issues, and have dropoff sites throughout the city to return broken devices.
Distribution of Chromebooks will take place for high school students August 10-13. Schools will notify students and families by phone and e-mail when a pick-up schedule is established.
Distribution of Chromebooks to middle school students will take place August 17-20. Schools will notify students and families by phone and e-mail when a pick-up schedule is established.
Chromebooks for elementary school students won't arrive until December, so the school division will provide loaner devices in the meantime. That will take place August 24-27. More information will come soon for Pre-K.
You can read the return to learn plan here.