Regional schools overcoming device delays, connectivity challenges

SOUTHWICK – Technology woes have been a challenge for staff and students at Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District, but at the end of week two of the school year, most issues have been resolved.

STGRSD Finance and Operations Director Stephen Presnal said “the challenges have been many” as students and teachers work both in classrooms and remotely. One of the biggest hurdles still to overcome is the delivery of devices.

A SOuthwick-Tolland-Granville Regional Schools student works remotely. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

“The 2019-2020 school year was the first of a four-year phased in 1:1 device plan,” Presnal said. “Then COVID hit and we recognized that if this dragged on, we would have to speed up our acquisition of devices,” he said.

Laptops were ordered in late May and early June. Presnal said normally, the orders would have been received in three or four weeks but they were delayed and still have not been received.

“A supplier in China was shut down by the U.S. government for trade violations,” Presnal said. “They are a major supplier to a lot of equipment suppliers, inkling Lenova, which affected us, as well as HP and Apple. Lots of districts got clobbered with that.”

Once Presnal knew the order was delayed until after the start of school, the IT staff began scrambling to gather any device – including desktops – that could be used for students to use at home and at school. Orders for alternate products were placed and are now expected to arrive in mid-October. For now, Presnal said the students are covered.

“We have met the needs of everyone who asked to have a device, but new requests are trickling in,” he said, “and if that continues we may not have enough until we get our orders.”

The first week of school posed connectivity challenges for many students working remotely because of a licensing issue. “Some of the devices we have are older and can’t handle the operating system needed,” he said.

Presnal praised the IT staff for troubleshooting and responding quickly.

“They made it work under really challenging times,” he said. “It’s going in the right direction and when we can get these deliveries in hand we will get them deployed.”

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