APS to loan 18,000 laptops to students for distance learning

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s largest school district, Albuquerque Public Schools is getting ready to hand out laptops to every family that needs one as part of its state-ordered continuous learning program.

APS announced Monday it will be loaning Google Chrome-based laptops, or “Chromebooks” to high school students’ families by mid-week. The district has roughly 18,000 devices that it plans to lend out through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

“We’ve come up with a model that looks lot like the lunches, the grab and go’s that APS has been providing in which the majority of people will drive thru three stations at the high schools to get their Chromebooks distributed,” said Lucas Gutierrez, APS’ IT Director.

The district says it will start the distribution process Wednesday by handing out the roughly 8,000 Chromebooks currently available. High school seniors will be the first students to receive those laptops, followed by juniors, sophomores and freshmen.

“We’re focusing on high school right now just because they are, they’re more suited to online learning and again we wanted the seniors to be able to graduate,” Gutierrez said. “We are also working on a plan to get middle school and elementary schools Chromebooks out.”

The distribution Is slated to start April 8 at southeast and southwest high schools, including Manzano, Highland, Albuquerque High, Atrisco Heritage, Rio Grande and West Mesa.

Starting on April 13, APS says it will start distributing Chromebooks to northeast and northwest high schools, including Volcano Vista, Cibola, La Cueva, El Dorado, Sandia and Del Norte.

In all, APS says it managed to secure an order of 18,000 total Chromebooks. Volunteers have spent the last couple weeks setting up each computer one by one. The district expecting students to return the computers by the end of the school year. Computers identified as missing or stolen will be deactivated with a “kill switch,” according to the district.

APS thinks they have enough devices to guarantee one laptop per family in need. APS says about 70% of district families already have home access to computers. The district says the computers are for students who do not have access to a computer at home.

“If a student has a device at home, or the family has a device suitable to hit the internet and get to online learning, they’re fine, they don’t need to pick up a Chromebook from our distribution site,” Gutierrez said.

APS has yet to say what will be in the distance learning curriculum, however, it is warning parents and students that the subjects will be different than many expect.

“The focus now is really going to be on retention not so much introducing new information, the distance learning model will continue until the end of the year, but the end goal is to keep all of our students stimulated, engaged and learning,” said Monica Armenta, executive director for APS’s Communications Department.

The computers will need an internet connection to access the online coursework. APS says it hopes to have an announcement soon about getting help connecting to the internet for families without it.

“No one will argue that instructional times has been lost, however, we’d like everyone to keep in mind that students started the school year in August, and while it breaks all of our hearts not to see them end the year in class, most of the instruction had already been delivered,” Armenta said.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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