Techs Keep District Running During COVID-19

As a one-to-one district, NSD was uniquely prepared to move forward when the coronavirus pandemic abruptly closed school buildings across the state last spring. But pivoting to fully online instruction didn’t come without challenges.

With very few exceptions, every student in the district already had access to an iPad or a laptop. But not every family had access to the Internet or an understanding of how to access the various learning platforms required.

The situation shone a light on the heroic efforts of the district’s technology team, who worked nonstop to provide equitable internet access for almost 20,000 student and employee computers, laptops and iPads.

Techs turned every school site into a permanent WIFI bubble, where families could access the internet from playgrounds, parking lots and athletic fields, and deployed and supported 1,000 hotspots. The Help Desk call center was made available from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily, and in an “all hands on deck” move, all central and building techs were called in to man the phones. Handling an average of 150 live calls per day, the 20-plus crew also chipped away at answering upwards of 600 voice mails.

In addition, the district implemented three major platform changes, all requiring additional tech help. These included moving from Blackboard to Remind for parent communication; from itslearning to the Otus learning management system; and from no student single sign-on to ClassLink.

With the move to a hybrid model, techs were sent back to building sites to work on resolving the 1,700 help tickets that had accrued. These involved issues such as trouble connecting to platforms, problems with phones or monitors, network issues, rostering issues with software, and more.

“As far as our team goes, they were just amazing,” said Cody Kreps, director of information services. “Despite the challenges, they stayed true to the mission of helping students and staff from home.”