As the next school year continues to look uncertain for districts across Louisiana, the Iberia Parish School District is continuing to look at all their options as the 2020-2021 year draws closer.
One of the biggest changes Iberia Parish students will be seeing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the 1:1 Chromebook initiative, a project that became possible due to federal CARES Act money and was passed by the Iberia Parish School Board.
The initiative will allow K-12 students in the district to be in possession of their own Chromebook for educational purposes. About 3,000 Chromebooks were approved earlier this month, creating a total of about 15,000 Chromebooks in the district’s possession.
Assistant Superintendent Heath Hulin said the Chromebooks are slated to arrive later this summer, and some work before the school year starts will be updating the district’s tech inventory and identifying each Chromebook in the district’s possession.
“They will be mostly ready to go,” Hulin said Monday. “They all have internet access and we will add them to our network once they are here.”
The Chromebooks are filtered to only be usable for educational purposes, and if all goes to plan students will be receiving them when they arrive at school on orientation day.
Distribution of the Chromebooks will be handled by each school, but the Chromebooks themselves will be added to the district’s current fleet of Chromebooks that are already being used by the district.
Hulin said that the district administration has been in constant communication with teachers, parents, the Iberia Association of Educators and other stakeholders to allow the transition to go as smoothly as possible.
In the past few years, many students in public schools have already used Chromebooks for certain classes and have an understanding of how to use them.
The important difference, Hulin said, is the uncertainty of how the school year is going to operate in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If a worst case scenario is reached and students are forced to once again stay home for a significant part of the school year, Hulin said the Chromebooks will be a vital tool in allowing classwork to continue to proceed.
To that effect, teachers across the district have been involved in training courses during the summer that will allow them to better adapt to out of classroom teaching.
The district performed a parent survey earlier this summer to gauge how many parents of students in Iberia Parish had available internet connectivity, as well.
“We determined that about 2,000 to 2,500 parents did not have internet connectivity, and we are working on solutions to overcome that with the help of things like the CARES Act,” Hulin said.
A special board meeting is expected to be called in early July, where Superintendent Carey Laviolette is expected to announce a plan for the new school year.
“The kicker is really that it keeps changing on a daily basis,” Hulin said. “We are keeping track of what the governor says and what the situation is and getting feedback.”
But even if a regular school year does become possible, the Chromebook initiative is still expected to enhance the learning process for students across the parish.
“We have a couple of committees in place and hope to have the details ironed out soon,” Hulin said.