COVID-19 & Remote Learning
Des Moines Equips 21,000 Students with Devices
- By Dian Schaffhauser
largest district in Iowa distributed almost 21,000 laptops to
students during April to enable them to attend classes online. Des
Moines Public Schools
resumed coursework during the last weeks of April, when teachers
delivered 6,000 sections of classes remotely. The shift affected
32,000 students, from pre-K to grade 12.
the deployment, the district set about surveying its families to
determine individual need for computers and home-based internet
computers came from existing district stock and new purchases.
provide broadband where it didn't exist, initially district officials
provided mobile hotspots to many families as a stop-gap measure.
Simultaneously, the school system signed an agreement with Mediacom,
the metro area's largest internet service provider. The company
boosted its staff and is in the process of sending technicians to 100
homes each day to install wiring and activate high-speed internet
service for families designated by the district.
the year 2020, having an internet connection should be as common as
having indoor plumbing," said Superintendent Thomas Ahart, in a
statement. "In every aspect of our lives, including education,
connectivity to web-based, interactive information is a necessity.
One of our top priorities at DMPS is education equity, and addressing
this need is a big step forward."
district paid the initial monthly costs for internet service, through
a "low-cost, bulk purchase." Mediacom donated the labor and
installation costs for connecting up to 1,800 student households. The
company also waived modem lease fees. Eventually, families will be
responsible for covering the $9.95 monthly fee to continue the
is a smart investment for the school district for a number of
reasons," said Ahart. "Not only does it support our current
phase of distance learning, and prepares us for the possibility of
this pandemic continuing further, but it also puts in place the
infrastructure for future online learning opportunities as well as
simply bringing a valuable resource into the home of every student."
noted that the project lays the groundwork to reconnect students if
distance learning solutions are needed in the future.
work of equipping students with devices and internet access has been
financially supported by Mediacom as well as the new "DMPS
Equity in Connectivity Fund," established at the Community
Foundation of Greater Des Moines,
which is still
district's [email protected]
effort includes an online hub where families and students can find
educational resources, request subject workbooks for pre-K-8, order
printed materials and participate in Canvas, the district's learning
graduation, the district is planning "personal commencements."
Each senior will be assigned a time range to arrive with no more than
two guests. Each senior will walk across the stage in his or her cap
and gown to receive a diploma and have a graduation photograph taken.
As in the past, the events will be filmed and aired at a later date
on local media and made available on the district and high school web
sites and social media pages. Those commencements will take place
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.