Education

QPS launches computer loan program for families

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 9, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools will launch a computer loan program for families in need in conjunction with the second phase of its remote learning plan.

Remote learning plan materials will be available online at qps.org beginning Monday, and paper copies will be available Monday and Tuesday at all locations providing sack breakfasts and lunches while schools are closed.

"We're all ready to go with the paper distribution plan," QPS Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Kim Dinkheller said. "It will look very similar to what it was last time."

One key difference will be a new process to lend one computer per family, with distribution beginning next week, to make more learning options available for students.

Remote learning packets for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and some material for high school, can be completed without a computer or online access, but online access provides supplemental materials and better access to teachers.

"The ultimate goal is to help our kids and help our families," Dinkheller said. "That's our goal when we're in school and when we're out of school."

Families must complete a laptop request form through the Skyward access portal available at qps.org. Parents without online access should contact their student's classroom teacher to make the request.

"If you provided an email address it will autogenerate a confirmation email. If you didn't provide an email, then a phone number is listed, and someone from the child's school will reach out with pickup information," Dinkheller said.

"The call or email that comes to families will have the time, location and date -- we'll be distributing every evening next week -- and also have a code" required to pick up the computer, she said. "We know pickup times aren't going to work with every family. The code gives some flexibility to families."

Distribution will be done by QPS volunteers at K-5 buildings, three sites at Quincy Junior High School and three sites at Quincy High School.

Using several sites helps "people be distributed across the district instead of having people congregate at one location," QPS Information Technology Director Dan Ware said. "It's just a matter of trying to figure out the solution that will provide the least amount of physical interaction."

The computers will be available for families to use until remote learning is no longer necessary or the end of the school year.

"We will have a turn-in process," Dinkheller said. "We'll work out those details as time goes on and continue to work with the health department so we're doing it in a safe way."

QPS IT staff members have been updating computers to share with families.

"We're trying to get a better idea of the number," Ware said. "At this point we're prepping at least 1,000 devices, prepping the system and network to make sure (we're) staying consistent."

Families without internet service in the home could access a low-cost option from Xfinity and hot spots available in the parking lots at Flinn Stadium and the Quincy Family YMCA.

But Superintendent Roy Webb doesn't want the remote learning plan and the computer loan program to add more stress to QPS families.

"If you want to do less and concentrate on family wellness, we support that 100%," he said. "If you want more and more challenges, please reach out to your teacher for ideas to expand the remote learning plans."