MOSELLE, Miss. (WDAM) - As many school districts in the Pine Belt start and prepare for in-person and virtual classes this fall, technology delays are raising some concerns.
Jones County School District Superintendent Tommy Parker says they have applied for a grant through the Mississippi Department of Education to receive more than 7,600 Chromebooks for students.
“We’re told by the Mississippi Department of Education that they should be able to provide us those by November,” Parker said. “Our biggest challenge is, as it has been, what we can do to provide online and virtual education between now and the time we receive that additional equipment. "
Lamar County School District Superintendent Tess Smith says they also don’t expect to have Chromebooks until November. Smith released a statement saying the following:
“I never dreamed it would take this long to get devices. Since it is a grant, we have to match 20% of the funds, so we are working to retain CARES money to help cover the added cost. We have a number of devices in the district that were purchased with federal dollars. We are currently working to obtain permission to release those to students in our upper grades for home use regardless of which school they attend.”
With a hybrid model in place, Laurel School District Superintendent Toy Watts says they also don’t have enough devices for each student to take home.
“We’re competing with everyone when we order that technology, so we don’t expect that to be a fast turnaround for those devices,” Watts said. “So, those parents who opt to do virtual 100% in the beginning will have to provide that device and internet access in the interim.”
One district who isn’t coming across this challenge is the Petal School District. Superintendent Matt Dillon says they have enough Chromebooks for all 7th through 12th grade students.
“We’re very fortunate within the Petal School District to have Chromebooks for our students,” Dillon said. “Over the last six years, we’ve dedicated a lot of dollars toward technology in our district. That’s put us in a very good position right now as we’re in the midst of COVID-19 and the pandemic.”
East Jasper Consolidated School District says providing a device for their students is also an issue they are facing, which is why they are handing out paper learning packets to students.