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Posted on: August 12, 2021

Technology Update for the 2021-22 School Year

Dear Andover Public School Families: 

As we approach the start of the new school year for our students, I wanted to share updates to the guidelines for how students engage learning through devices like iPad and Chromebook. Since March 2020 we have collectively participated in an unprecedented transition, from the traditional in-school model to a variety of remote and hybrid experiences, all powered by emerging technology.  The coming school year continues to utilize technology at the forefront of your student’s learning experience.  Our team is working to ensure that every Andover Public School (APS) student has access to all their on-line educational content while in school and, as appropriate, during their time at home.  The 2021-22 technology plan is a joint effort by the Andover Education team, our Digital Learning team and Information Technology with review and oversight from the Superintendent and School Committee.  This communication is an overview for families at all grade levels.   This information can also be found on our website, https://aps1.net/2320/Your-Students-Devices.

For Elementary Families: 

During the pandemic, most elementary school students were loaned a town-owned device to assist them in their remote learning.  If your student still has a device, it must be returned to Andover IT as soon as possible.  We are trying to clean and reset all devices for re-distribution over the coming weeks.  All of these devices have been disabled and are no longer usable. Please send an email to etech@andoverma.us to arrange a drop-off time.   

  • All Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade students will be provided with a school-owned iPad to assist them with learning this year.  Students will be able to use these devices in school.  There are no current plans to allow these devices to be used outside of the classroom. 
  • Grade 2 and 3 students will be provided with a school-owned Chromebook to assist them with learning this year while in school.  Students will be able to use these devices in school.  There are no current plans to allow these devices to be used outside of the classroom. 
  • Grade 4 and 5 students will be provided with a school-owned Chromebook to assist them with learning this year.  At the individual teacher’s discretion, students may be encouraged to take devices home from time to time to complete additional assignments outside the classroom.  Students will be provided with an additional charger to use at home to make sure they charge the devices at night.  

For Middle School Families:

As in prior years, all middle school students are expected to bring a personal computing device to school each day. The only approved device at the middle school level is a Chromebook. Windows, MacOS (Apple) or iOS devices are not approved devices. 

Two years ago, the middle school faculty requested and were approved by the School Committee to only support Chrome style devices. This was driven by a need to ensure a homogeneous and safe experience for all students.  Chrome devices require minimal technical assistance and can be managed to limit distractions and maintain safety.  

To create this safer and more uniform homogeneous experience for students and staff, all personally owned student devices must be “managed” by the IT department during school hours. 

  • “Management” means that students may only access their official school account during these hours and that they may only access applications approved by Andover Public Schools. 
  • Management does not provide IT with access to student cameras or microphones.  Management is also different from “content filtering”.  See section, “For Students and Families”. 
  • Outside of school hours, the device automatically becomes unmanaged by the district and students, with family approval, may utilize personal accounts and access applications that may be unapproved by the district. 
  • It is important to note that “management” is not optional, as voted on by the Andover School Committee. To place your student’s device under management you may follow these instructions: Chromebook Management Instructions.  IT will offer you additional options to help you place devices under management.  Middle school families will receive a separate, more detailed communication shortly. Devices that are not managed will be unable to access the school network or any technology resources and therefore, we recommend that you take these steps before the first day of school to ensure a seamless educational experience for your child. 
  • For families who prefer not to purchase a device or who prefer not to place their personal devices under management, Andover Public Schools offers a rental program.  For $130 annually per student, families may rent a school owned device to assist in their student’s learning.  Details on this program can be found at: Your Student's Devices.  Rental devices will be available for pick-up at your student’s school on or after August 30th.  
  • APS offers a scholarship program for students with demonstrated need.  If your circumstances dictate, you may request a scholarship device from your school principal or teacher.  

For High School Students

As in prior years, all high school students are expected to bring a personal computing device to school each day.  Students may bring a Windows, MacOS or Chromebook device to school to access crucial educational applications and content. 

APS offers a scholarship program for students with demonstrated need.  If your circumstances dictate, you may request a scholarship device from your school principal or teacher. 

For All Students and Families:  

  • Because your student may be taking their devices home each night, it is important that they develop habits to charge their device each evening.  They must come to school each day with a fully charged device.  A very small number of spares will be available at each school. 
  • If you or your student believe that a school system is “down” please check our new status page at  https://status.andoverma.us first. All outages will be posted here. 
  • As a reminder, while students are in school and using the school network, we take extensive measures to protect them from inappropriate content.  All Internet activity is filtered and monitored, considered “content filtering”.   However, while students are at home and using your personal network, it is your responsibility to determine what content your child sees in accordance with your own family’s standards.  
  • We are often asked if we have specific requirements for BYOD devices.  While almost any 2–4-year-old device will work, the crucial requirements are a long battery life (ideally 8+ hours), camera/speaker/microphone. Nice to have: touch screen, hybrid tablet mode, dual cameras, ruggedized construction, more memory (8GB) for Windows devices. Students using Windows or MacOS devices must be running recent releases of Windows 10 or MacOS along with anti-virus software. We do not require or recommend any manufacturer or model for Windows or Chrome devices.  As a point of reference, the standard Chromebook used throughout the district is the HP Chromebook 11 x360 EE. 

We understand that this represents a large amount of information, and we wanted to provide you the most up to date information to help our families plan for the new school year.  If you have additional questions, please send an email to etech@andoverma.us  and we will respond as quickly as possible. 

Sincerely, 

Paul Puzzanghera

Chief Information Officer 

 

 

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