Newton County students’ parents and guardians will be required to sign user agreements for each device they borrow from the school district for their students’ virtual learning to begin the school year.
The school system also addressed “classroom safety in the virtual learning environment” — which is how all county students will begin the school year Sept. 8 — in a note addressed to parents on its Facebook page this week.
The Newton County School System recently made the decision to begin the school year with a virtual learning model for all students due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the community, it said in a news release.
"Unfortunately, some students may not have access to the necessary technology devices to participate in virtual learning. As a result, NCSS is offering parents the opportunity to borrow a technology device (Chromebook and/or internet hotspot) from the district at no charge,” the release stated.
School System Director of Technology Adam Phyall said in the release the various technology devices are scheduled to be distributed beginning Monday, Aug. 24, to those parents and students in need and who have submitted requests.
The general schedule for distribution is:
• Elementary Schools, Aug. 24-26
• Middle Schools, Aug. 26-27
• High Schools, Aug. 24-25
“Our elementary and middle schools will contact parents to provide more details about specific pick-up times,” Phyall said.
“High school students will need to sign up for an appointment window using the link provided on their school’s website. Those links will be posted on Thursday, Aug. 20.”
Phyall noted that parents and guardians are required to complete user agreements for each device they check out for their student. Copies of the agreement will be available at the school at the time of pickup, the release stated.
In addition, the school system posted a note to parents on its Facebook page about “classroom safety in the virtual learning environment.”
“Virtual learning most definitely creates many new opportunities for our students and teachers to connect during this time of uncertainty.
“With these new opportunities for at-home access, we want to ensure that students have a safe virtual experience.
“All Newton County School System-issued Chromebooks are equipped with our web filter that is CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA compliant. This includes the ability to block inappropriate content, search term visibility, self-harm alerts, and many more features.
“NCSS teachers will be able to have screen visibility and content control of student devices during each class period utilizing Classwize; the Classwize dashboard lets teachers see and manage online activity for the entire class in real-time.
“To secure our Zoom meetings, our teachers will restrict access to all class sessions to only users with a Newton County account and implement waiting rooms. This safety measure will ensure that unwanted guests are not able to disrupt Zoom sessions.
“In addition to these steps, we are continuously training our faculty and staff on the best virtual learning instructional practices.
“Please know that we are continually reviewing and revising our safety measures to ensure that all students have a safe and secure virtual learning experience.”
For more information on technology device distribution, the school district is asking parents to visit their students’ school website or contact the school’s office.