Buford to supply laptops to all students this fall

During digital learning days at the end of last school year, most Buford City Schools students relied on personal computers and laptops to complete class assignments. With CARES ACT funds to supplement the budget, the school system has purchased enough Chromebooks so that every student will have their own to use. Buford is still working on internet access issues. COURTESY OF BUFORD CITY SCHOOLS

The state mandated quarantine last school year caught many school systems off guard for digital learning. Although Buford City Schools saw the majority of students participating there were some who lacked adequate equipment. Through feedback provided by the community, administrators discovered that leveling digital equity was a great concern to

many families.

Superintendent Robert Downs announced this week that the district will be implementing a new 1:1 digital technology initiative when the new school year begins.

“In March, when our schools had to abruptly close, we became keenly aware of the digital divide within our district,” Downs said. “In response to this need, our Curriculum and Technology Departments quickly expedited a plan to provide devices for each K-12 student in the fall. With the next several months being so uncertain, this helps ensure all students have equitable access for their education.”

The $480,143 Buford schools received from the CARES Act Relief Fund will supplement the budget to allow 1,330 Chromebooks to be purchased and distributed with the current Chromebooks already in the system.

“A 1:1 device initiative along with the implementation of a new learning management system will provide unique, engaging, and interactive learning opportunities for Buford City Schools’ teachers and students,” said Amy Chafin, Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

At the beginning of the school year, BCS will assign and distribute Chromebooks to each student.

For kindergarten through 5th grade students, the assigned devices will be kept in their classrooms for their daily use, while 6th to 12th grade students will be transporting their devices between school and home.

One of the added benefits of this 1:1 initiative, said school officials, is keeping viruses from spreading due to multiple students using the same device.

“Our technology team is working diligently to provide a seamless rollout for the 1:1 initiative,” said Jason Downs, Director of Technology. “We are ensuring that the schools have the infrastructure in place to support over 5,000 devices. There will be onsite technical support in each school to expedite any issues so that students can quickly return to their digital learning.” Social media blew up when the news came out. Several parents expressed their gratitude that school officials were looking after the welfare of all students.

“Very nervous for school starting but this is a great first step!” wrote one parent on the Buford City Schools Facebook page.

“Thank you for listening!” wrote another. The technology department is also exploring options to ensure all students have internet access if it becomes necessary to return to digital learning days.

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