District-Wide Chromebook Initiative
In May of 2020, the Board of Education approved a 1:1 plan that will make a Chromebook computer available to every KCS student in Grades K-12, starting in August.
This initiative was made possible by federal funding provided through the CARES Act, and will enable teachers to enhance their instruction through the use of technology. By making computers available to every student, we believe the district will have more flexibility to continue teaching during unusual circumstances, such as a weather event or a closure due to illness. Equally important, we believe that even during normal operations the availability of Chromebooks will provide new learning opportunities and prepare students to succeed in a world where technology plays such an important role.
Chromebook registration forms and insurance forms are now available online, and paper forms will be available at schools beginning on July 24. Please note that these forms require a student number (which begins with an "S"). If you do not know your student’s number, login to the Aspen portal or call the school. Once the forms are submitted to the student’s base school, the school will contact them with details about how and when the devices will be distributed.
For additional information, please see the "Frequently Asked Questions" document below.
In order to best use your laptop, it is very important that your home has access to the internet. More information about internet availability, including a phone number for assisting families with accessing affordable internet services at home, is available on the flyer below.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more.
About the Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
How to Apply
There are two ways for eligible households to apply:
- Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
- Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
After receiving an eligibility determination, households can contact their preferred service provider to select an Emergency Broadband Benefit eligible service plan.
Information found in this post was obtained from the fcc.gov website.
Stay Up To Date
As we prepare to distribute Chromebooks, KCS wants to make sure families get the information they need. One way to do that is by updating your email address in Aspen.
Here’s how to do it:
- After logging in to Aspen, click on your (parent) name at the top right, and choose “Set Preferences” from the drop-down menu.
- In the pop-up box, click the “Security” tab at the top.
- Make sure your email address is up-to-date, and add an alternate email if necessary.
For all other changes, including an update to your phone number, please contact your school office. If you’re not getting text messages from School Messenger, you can also text the word YES to 67587.
Questions and Answers
What electronic device will be provided under this initiative?
The district will provide touch-screen Chromebooks for students in grades K-2, and standard Chromebooks for students in grades 3-12.
When will students receive their device? How do students receive a device if they’re utilizing the virtual option?
Chromebook registration forms and insurance forms are now available, and printed copies will be available at schools beginning on July 24. Once the forms are submitted, each student’s base school will contact them with details about how and when the devices will be distributed.
Will there be any cost for families to participate in this program?
All devices will be provided free of charge, but families will be given the option to buy insurance for $20.
Where can families submit payment for the insurance?
Families can visit SchoolCashOnline to pay the insurance fee online. You may also submit a check, made payable to "Knox County Schools Device Insurance", to P.O. Box 314, Knoxville, TN 37901.
Is assistance available for families who can’t afford Chromebook insurance?
At this time, we do not have an assistance program in place for the 2021-2022 school year. Insurace coverage is optional for families and not required. We have made the online application allow the insurance payment to be spread over up to 5 months which can lower the cost to $4.00 per month.
How are parents charged for repairs if they do not have the insurance?
If repairs are needed, parents will be provided with a schedule of costs. Typical repairs range from $30-$80 and will be charged as a fine if the parent did not purchase insurance. A total loss of the device will result in a charge of $250.
Can we add personalizations to the Chromebooks?
Please do not write, mark, paint or add stickers to the school issued Chromebook. If you would like to personalize your device, we recommend you purchase a removable plastic case for the device your student is issued. Markings and stickers are considered intentional damage and not covered by the KCS Device Insurance program and subject to a fine to replace the damaged part.
Will there be parent training and workshops?
The district will provide tutorial videos and guides, and schools will provide specific training for any technologies that are school-specific.
Will there be any training for younger students who have never used a computer keyboard?
The plan calls for deployment of touch-screen Chromebooks for grades K-2, because that device has a “tablet” mode that does not require keyboard skills.
How will the district prevent students from accessing inappropriate material on their device?
The district will issue clear policies about acceptable use and parents will need to sign, indicating their agreement. There will be filtering software that will prevent students from accessing inappropriate or harmful content in most cases. However, no software is foolproof.
I’m concerned about the effects of screen time on my child. How will the district ensure that students aren’t spending too much time on devices?
Technology in the classroom is a tool for a teacher to enhance their teaching. KCS does not believe traditional teaching techniques and activities should be replaced by screen time. During a “normal schedule”, teachers will have the autonomy to develop their classroom model and determine what percentage of a student’s learning will be online and what will be face-to-face.
We also believe students need to learn from an early age about usage and time management of technology in the learning environment. We are encouraging teachers to talk with families about the importance of managing screen time for students.
If a student already owns their own device, could it be used instead?
The district will not allow students to use their own device instead of one issued by the district. Allowing students to use their own devices at school raises concerns about security and appropriate usage. With district-managed devices, we can limit access and monitor content in a way that would not be possible on student-owned devices.
Will students be able to take the devices home after school?
Under normal circumstances, the district will give flexibility to school administration regarding device usage, including whether devices can go home with students.
Will students be able to use the devices for non-school activities? For social media, video games, or movies?
The device is being provided to students for educational uses. Access to internet sites should mirror access while in the school setting, which is subject to the district’s Acceptable Use policy and content filtering restrictions.
Will students be able to download programs such as Grammarly or Photoshop to help with their assignments?
In general, software cannot be downloaded onto the Chromebook. District or school subscriptions will be available if the software is web-based.
How will families access tech support?
Technicians will respond based on tickets submitted by a school staff member. Each school will have surplus Chromebooks that can be swapped out quickly, allowing students to continue work by simply logging in to a new device. Extended hours of Help Desk support will be available during the months of August and September.
Can a student travel with a school device outside of Knox County?
Short-term travel, such as over a break, within the Continental US with the device is generally allowed. However, extra care should be taken to ensure the school-owned device is not left visible in a car, stored in a hot or unconditioned space for extended periods of time, or left unattended in a public place.
International travel is not permitted and the device or school issued accounts may be automatically locked when detected.