Local schools stocking up on technology for the school year

LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) –”Student’s won’t need to purchase anything nor will their families,” said Deanna Wiatt, the director of instruction for West Salem School District.

Prior to the pandemic, West Salem and Holmen school districts had 1 to 1 plans in place.

That is a program where students in their district had a device, like an iPad or laptop that they would use at school and take home every night. But this program previously was not implemented in younger grades.

“Right now we’re looking at how we expand our reach to elementary students who were not initially apart of that program. And how do we make sure that they have the tools and access that they need to engage in instruction this fall,” said Greg Krueger, director of information and technology for Holmen School District.

“Every kindergarten through 12th grader will have a device in their hands. Our kindergarten through 8th grade will have iPads, and our high schoolers will have laptops,” said Wiatt.

But even with a school loaned device, there are still barriers.

“WiFi and access to the internet at home is and can be a big barrier,” said Krueger. “For certain districts that’s a huge problem, for us we’re really talking about a handful of families.”

Both school districts gave out hotspots to families that needed it last spring.

“Last year we had 40 hotspots that we offered families. This upcoming year, because we’re adding kindergarten through second grade, that might change a little bit,” said Wiatt.

However Wiatt said some hotspots don’t work for everybody. So, the district will be providing WiFi.

“Access outside of our high schools in the parking lot. And we’ll also have it outside our elementary and middle schools in the loop area outside of the front of their schools,” said Wiatt.

For some students that would mean to do their homework online, they would have to be within range of the school’s WiFi to complete their assignments.

Holmen school officials predict they’ll spend between 4-hundred to 500-thousand-dollars on the extra technology to ensure every student has what they need.