Waldorf, MD – March 31, 2020 – With the Maryland school closure extending through April 24, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) technology staff is preparing to distribute laptops to students who need them to complete distance learning assignments. Some laptops will be distributed later this week, others will be ready next week.
On March 13, the last day students and staff were in schools before the closure, students took a two-question survey, answering if they have internet at home and if they have a device to complete schoolwork. If students were absent on March 13, the survey was sent by email to their parents or guardians. CCPS staff also phoned families who did not have a valid email on file. Based on survey results, some 2,400 laptops are set to be distributed.
Computer analysts (CA) are preparing student laptops this week which includes cleaning and updating them. Each computer will come with a bag, charger and instruction sheet.
Technology staff will contact each school principal to determine pick up times and dates, with some schools requiring a multi-day distribution. Parents will be contacted by their child’s school with an appointment time and date to pick up the device.
Parents must be on the pickup list in order to receive a device for their child. For those not on the list, an administrator will take their information and reschedule a pickup time. In order to pick up a laptop, parents will be required to provide the student’s name and student ID number to the administrator, who will verify the child’s legal guardian’s information.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), in partnership with AT&T FirstNet, has purchased and placed public access WiFi cellular hotspots at Piccowaxen Middle School, Matthew Henson Middle School, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School and T.C. Martin Elementary School. CCPS chose the hotspot locations using information from its recent student technology survey, Comcast and Verizon hotspot maps, and a recent broadband survey county government conducted to determine the areas in highest need.
The CCPS instructional technology team is working on a more permanent solution for public access WiFi at schools located in or near school communities with the most need. Use of hotspots for distance learning is permitted under Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order issued on Monday, March 30.
Directions to access the hotspot
• Pull into the front parking lot
• Open your WiFi connection or Network connection screen
• Look for the network name “Public Access”
• The network password is CharlesCounty (one word, the letter C is capitalized both times). A password is necessary so Apple devices can connect.
For those who don’t have access to technology or prefer to complete their work using pen and paper, the online lessons will be available in paper packets available for pick up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, at the 11 CCPS meals sites:
• Henry E. Lackey High School;
• Maurice J. McDonough High School;
• St. Charles High School;
• Westlake High School;
• Milton M. Somers Middle School;
• Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary;
• Indian Head Elementary School;
• Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School;
• Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School;
• J.C. Parks Elementary School; and
• J.P. Ryon Elementary School.
For paper assignments, students are asked to keep a “portfolio.” Students should keep all their work together and once schools open, they can bring it in to receive grades. For students who opt to use a hybrid of online and paper instruction, they should keep their paper assignments in order to hand them in to their teachers once schools reopen.
The upcoming middle and high school assignments will focus on the four core subjects of English, math, science and social studies and count for fourth-quarter grades. However, CCPS is waiting for direction from the Maryland State Department of Education as to how those assignments will be graded.
Teachers are considering equity and consistency moving forward as well as the needs of students in special education programs and those who are in English Learners (EL) program.
Special education teachers will review all student IEPs in their caseload and use Goalbook, an online platform for teachers and students that centers on the achievement of individual student learning goals.
Elementary school assignments will be accessible at www.ccboe.com.
Middle and high school students will use Apex Learning, a digital curriculum program that is already being used by high school students enrolled in the Virtual Academy to complete coursework.
More details about accessing distance learning assignments will be forthcoming as the week continues. Students and parents will receive login information and student expectations for completion of the work. The assignments will likely start rolling out online and paper packets available for pick up starting April 3.