Thousands of Loudoun County public school students in grades 3-12 this month are finally getting the Chromebooks they’ll need to finish out their school years at home.
Staffers from the school system’s Department of Digital Innovation this week and next are working to distribute more than 11,400 Chromebooks to students for the distance learning curriculum they’ll be using to learn from now until the close of the school year in June.
On Wednesday, 450 students were registered to pick up their Chromebooks at Brambleton Middle School—as part of a 7- to 10-day distribution that will take place at two middle schools and 14 elementary schools.
Superintendent Eric Williams made it to Brambleton to help hand out some of the laptops to parents as they drove through the kiss and ride area out front of the school.
“I think the Chromebooks will be one important part [of distance learning],” Williams said.
While the county school system had already planned to distribute laptops to all students in grades 3-12, and has already distributed many of them, that initiative was expedited earlier this month because of the likelihood that schools would be closed to protect against spread of COVID-19. Gov. Ralph Northam has since mandated that all Virginia schools close for the remainder of this school year.
The closures prompted the School Board earlier this month to use $5 million in surplus funding from its health care account to fund the final phase of the Chromebook rollout, which had been scheduled for the 2020-2021 school year. On March 10, the school system ordered the additional Chromebooks.
Students will use the laptops to learn virtually, mainly via Google Classroom. Teachers will begin implementing those activities on Monday. Elementary school teachers are expected to provide daily learning opportunities of up to 60 or 90 minutes, while middle and high school teachers are expected to provide daily learning opportunities of up to 30 minutes per class.
The Virginia Department of Education plans to develop continued distance learning instruction to roll out in April.