Thousands of Copperas Cove ISD students headed back to the classroom today, each with their very own laptop. The pandemic highlighting equity issues when it comes to accessible technology and internet access. However, thanks to tons of grants and local funding, CCISD said all 8,000 students now have access to a personal device.
Access to technology proved to be a necessity throughout the last school year, even though students are back in the classroom, CCISD is making sure all of their students have access to their own computers in school and at home.
The sound of the school bell starts Dominic Wilson's day, but it's not something he's looking forward to.
"I don't really want to go to school," Wilson said.
However, something this 6th grader can appreciate is a new laptop.
"It's exciting," Wilson said. "I've never had my own computer. So, it's new for me."
Wilson has had to share a computer with his siblings, which has become an issue when they all have assignments due. Fellow 6th grader Juan Diego Corona is a pen and paper guy, but he too can get behind the idea of a personal computer.
"Some people really like to work on paper but I don't think it makes them more motivated but when you're on a computer you would feel more motivated to work because you're on technology," Cordona said.
After navigating through a school year like this last one, the district sent out surveys. The results revealed a need for access to technology. So, Dr. Eric Parcell Director of Technology Services, and his team got to work.
"It connects the learner and it levels the playing field," Parcell said. "Nobody has to go without. So much of what we have today in the instructional services side of the house is online."
This isn't something that happened overnight. Dr. Parcell said this idea popped up in the Spring when the district only had about 4,000 devices. Thanks to grants, many of which were available due to the pandemic, and some district funding, they were able to purchase an additional 4,000 laptops.
Dr. Parcell said, "I'm thinking about 1.2 million, probably, but again, what has helped tremendously is the windfall of money from the pandemic."
The district now has 8,000 devices. PreK through 5th-grade students are assigned a device that stays at school. While 6 through 12th-graders can take their computers home till the end of the school year. Parents say it's a financial weight lifted off parents shoulders.
Chrisandra Hill said, "It feels good to know that we're able to get this on top of the other things that the district does for the families right now."
"It's hard times for everybody. It takes a load off the parents to know it's covered, and they don't have to worry about the kid's education on that part," said CCISD parent Larissa Hall said.
All computers are also equipped with child protection software. It's a little idea that started in the spring, has blossomed into a district-wide success story.
"Seeing it all come to fruition has been it's been a beautiful thing," said Dr. Parcell. "Just knowing that we've got good solid systems in place, good solid reliable resources, and everybody has equal access to technology in Copperas Cove ISD."
Although this project is in its early stages, the district is already looking ahead to the future. Hoping one day when students do graduate, they can take their laptops home with them as a graduation present on the district.
CCISD has also improved wifi access at all campus facilities, so students can work from their devices at any CCISD building. They have also given parents the option to rent hotspots and purchase device insurance if needed.