Marlboro administrators address technology issues in school district

MARLBORO – Administrators in the Marlboro K-8 School District have provided an update regarding the reopening of the district’s eight buildings during the ongoing coronavirus health crisis.

Marlboro operates the David C. Abbott Early Learning Center, Asher Holmes Elementary School, Defino Central Elementary School, Frank J. Dugan Elementary School, Marlboro Elementary School, Robertsville Elementary School, Marlboro Middle School and Marlboro Memorial Middle School.

During a Board of Education meeting on Sept. 22, Superintendent of Schools Eric Hibbs discussed issues regarding the district’s technology.

Hibbs said there were two primary issues with technology at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

The first issue was that with many students receiving remote instruction because schools have not reopened at 100% capacity, the district’s firewall could not handle so many active log-in connections, causing lag to video and Google Doc accessibility, according to the superintendent.

The second issue was that the district’s 500 staff Chromebook laptop computers were not functional because of a chip error in the devices. The Chromebooks will be replaced at no cost to the district, Hibbs said.

In response to the technology issues, district administrators placed students at the two middle schools on 100% remote learning, which meant they would not receive live lessons over Zoom.

“I did not want to put anyone into remote,” Hibbs said. “This is not something we thought we would have to do at all. At the moment, we went with middle school students because they are older and it is easier to have them work remotely than it is to have kindergartners work remotely.”

Other issues that occurred with the technology were bandwidth issues, sound issues, WiFi issues, issues with parent emails during lessons due to connectivity, staff members using their own devices and attendees being removed from meetings.

Hibbs said all of the issues were primarily occurring at the two middle schools and he said they were expected to be corrected within a week of the board meeting.

The superintendent moved on to a discussion of phase two of the district’s reopening plan. Phase one provided limited school openings during the first few weeks of the academic year.

Elementary school students in the hybrid learning program (a combination of in-school and remote instruction) will have four-hour live lessons on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the same AA/BB cohort setup in which they are already participating.

Following the live lesson session, the students will have assigned tasks such as independent reading and the use of online tools. On Wednesday, the students will have assigned tasks only and no live sessions, according to district administrators.

Elementary school students who, by their parents’ choice, are receiving 100% remote instruction, will have three hours of posted content followed by one hour of live instruction per day, 30 minutes for math and 30 minutes for English/language arts, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday will be used for a fully virtual live learning session. These elementary school sessions will be accompanied by scheduled breaks, according to district administrators.

Students at the two middle schools will continue to be taught in the same AA/BB cohorts and remote cohort they are currently taught in with hybrid learning on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday being reserved for a full remote day for all students.

District administrators will permit the students’ parents and guardians to switch the type of instructional program in which their children are enrolled before the second marking period begins.

“The world we are living in right now is not one I see changing in the near future. We look around at the world we live in and it’s different.

“Who would have thought we would have wipes, 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, sneeze guards and all of these items in schools, along with the issues schools are navigating right now?

“We are not alone in having any form of an issue and we are doing the best we can to navigate these issues,” Hibbs said.

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