Tech Newsletter May 2020

Device Roll-in Communications

Here is copy of the communication about device roll-in that will be going out later this week to all households in the district.

As we approach the end of our regular school year and distance learning, we would like to share our plans for collecting devices.

Device Return Locations for each school

  • Eagle Creek: Cafeteria entrance
  • Red Oak: Cafeteria 3rd - 4th, Main office entrance 5th - 9th
  • Jackson: Main office entrance
  • Sweeney: West Middle School Main Entrance
  • Sun Path: Upper/Main office entrance
  • Middle Schools: West Middle School Main Entrance
  • High School & Tokata: High School Main Entrance Lobby

Return Dates and Hours

  • June 2: 10-5 High School and Tokata only senior drop-off
  • June 3: 12-7
  • June 4: 8-3
  • June 5: 7-2
  • June 8: 12-7
  • June 9: 8-3

Please note that schools may extend or add more times at their discretion.

Device Return Instructions: Grades K-5

We would like devices returned for the summer so that we can prepare them for the next school year. We have developed a process that we believe is simple and designed to minimize contact.

  1. Please attach a post it note or tape a note to the device with the child’s name, ID (lunch) number if known, and grade.

  2. When you drive up to the device return location, a district staff member will hand you a Ziploc bag for each device. Please place the iPad and charger in the bag (one bag per student). If you were assigned a mi-fi/hotspot, please also place that in the bag.

  3. Hand the bagged items back to the district staff.

Please drop off K-5 student devices at the assigned location and within the scheduled times. We have scheduled multiple days for device return along with a variety of hours of availability. Note that Sweeney has an alternate drop-off site due to construction.

Note: Special Education students participating in the Extended School Year summer school program are allowed to keep devices through summer.

Device Return Instructions: Grades 6-11

We are allowing students in grades 6-11 to hold on to devices and hotspots over summer. If you would prefer to return the device for the summer, that is fine. Students who may be attending a summer school program (assuming those programs are offered) are encouraged to hold on to the device for use in summer school.

  • Middle school students who are choosing to return the device over summer should bring it to West Middle School during the scheduled drop-off times.

  • High School and Tokata students who are choosing to return the device over summer should bring it to the High School during the scheduled drop-off times.

Device Return Instructions: Grade 12/graduating students

12th grade/graduating High School and Tokata students can return the device to the high school or district office during the hours listed above. Beyond those dates, devices can be returned during regular building hours. We understand that in some cases extensions may be granted to allow 12th grade students to complete their required work. If a computer needs to be kept beyond June 9, please get approval from your assigned counselor or Assistant Principal.

Additional Notes

  • Exiting/Withdrawn students: If you are leaving the district and are still in possession of a device after June 9, please return it to the District Office.

  • On-Site Support: June 2 will be our last day for on-site support at the Pearson school building.

  • Instructions for backing up files can be found on our website here:

Device Roll-in Notes

Here are a few other details and explanations related to device roll-in:

Why are we collecting K-5?

At this point, we do not know exactly what the start of the next school year will look like. Even if we start the year with distance learning, it feels likely that the schools would have some sort of supply or material pick-up regardless. If need be, devices can be redistributed at that time.

We would also like the opportunity to assess the condition of the devices and make sure everything is in good order for the next school year.

What about summer school?

The delivery of summer school services is still being discussed. At this point, the only program that had some certainty around it was ESY, so we are allowing students participating in ESY to hold onto devices over summer. Whatever is ultimately decided for Targeted Services, we will work out a plan to get devices out as needed.

Will students be assigned the same device for next school year that they had this year?

There are advantages to each approach, but a key factor in that scenario is how we have built our device replacement cycles. When you are fully 1:1 for K-12 and have an expectation that every device should be expected to work reliably, while still trying to keep the budget for that effort at a reasonable amount, it can be tricky. The replacement cycle we are using treats K-1 as their own pool of devices, and 2-5 as a pool of devices. The 5th grade iPads are scheduled for replacement this summer, so 5th graders (this year's 4th graders) definitely would not have the same iPad. As of now, the safe assumption is that K-5 students will not have the same device going into next year; if that changes we will let you know in a future communication.

Our new Service Status Page provides a quick glance at the current status of various on-line services. For example, getting an error in Canvas? Check the status page.

Clicking on the indicator for many of the sites will take you to a more detailed status summary. In some cases, we are only reporting on whether a site is "up" at the moment.

Hopefully this helps in identifying whether an issue is affecting "just you" or is a symptom of a more widespread issue.

Goal Update: Phishing Prevention

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Audience: All Staff

Measurement Tool: KnowBe4 phishing campaign software.

Current Status (if known): 6.3% or less clicked on phishing e-mail links for the most recent two campaigns.

Target: 4% or less staff click a link or reply to a phishing e-mail by May 2020.

Rationale: Phishing attacks represent a threat to the district that encompasses the possibility of compromised information, identity theft, monetary theft, system outages, data loss, and erosion of trust.

Our most recent results are shown in the chart above.

Overall, we came close to our goal for the year!

Given the amount of suspicious e-mails going around lately attempting to capitalize on desire for information about COVID-19, stimulus payments, and other high profile and/or emotional issues, this was actually a good time to reinforce vigilance around e-mails.

This goal would be considered to be progressing, but not yet met, and I expect to carry it over into next year.

Seesaw Parent Connections

This is an update to the data in the previous newsletter. Parent engagement with Seesaw is helpful when we are expecting students to be using it.
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macOS Catalina

The latest MacBook operating system, Catalina, is available in Self Service. This is a required update.

Updating to Catalina can be helpful in resolving issues with screen recording software (Loom), Internet access and speed problems, Google Meet quality, and so on.

A few things you'll need or want in order to ensure a positive experience:


Mac plugged into power.

Clean Slate
All applications should be closed before starting the upgrade.


The upgrade will take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to complete. During this time you will not be able to use your Mac. Do not close the lid. Do not move it from place to place.

Drive Space

At least 20 GB disk space free. We have identified about 90 staff devices that may be short on space and will be reaching out to staff to do some file clean-up. (See note below about checking storage space).

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To view currently used storage, click on apple icon (top left corner) and click "About this Mac". Then view the Storage menu. If you need help reducing the amount of space used, please open a help ticket.

We currently have 1300+ Macs on Catalina, which is a great start!

Summer Projects

Here are some things the tech department will be working on this summer:

Blackboard Mass Notifications: Tech is working with Communications on this project. It is a system for mass messaging. We will continue to use Infinite Campus Messenger for certain communications, but with the switch to Skyward for HR we are no longer to message all district staff via Infinite Campus. Blackboard will be used for that purpose. It will replace other software or messaging sites currently in use, such as MailChimp (Communications) and Constant Contact (High School) and any other third party system for messaging. Consolidating this type of messaging under a single platform is ultimately more cost-effective for the district, easier to support, and provides consistency for parents and the community.

Raptor Emergency Management and Reunification: Tech is assisting the Crisis Response Steering Committee with this project. This is an add-on to our existing Raptor implementation which will be helpful with managing building and district level activities for emergency response, including drills, training, and handling our response to an actual emergency.

1:1 Devices: Refresh or new deployment cycles this year are 9th grade MacBooks, 6th grade iPads, and 5th grade iPads. We will use good condition iPad stock from this year's 5th and 8th grade device group to complete our phase-out of iPad minis; most of what remains are in Learning Commons carts.

K iPad Carts: Replacing the iPad carts for kindergarten rooms. Sorry, 1st grade, probably one more year with the charging boxes/crates. K carts do not have capacity for a 1:1 set of devices so they had to get done now.

PLTW PC lab updates: Rather than doing full replacement of PLTW lab machines, we will be upgrading the weakest component (hard drives) in several labs to get a couple more years out of those machines. Still identifying exactly how many labs are affected this summer.

And a bunch of other projects to keep things running smoothly that we will update you on as needed.

Audio-Visual Updates

Before COVID-19, an audio-visual updates newsletter was prepped to go out. We'll revisit this when things calm down.