While not all school districts have the technical capabilities to go virtual during severe winter weather, a new grant is helping Pottsville do just that and more.
POTTSVILLE, PA — It’s a normal day in the STEM program at John S. Clarke Elementary School in Pottsville. It doesn’t look like it, but students are engaging with enrichment activities on their iPads.
Now, trade-in, with just under $1 million in federal funding, will provide more than 2,400 new iPads.
That means students in all grades in the Pottsville Area School District will get one.
“The iPads we are currently providing to our students have reached end of life. This means they are no longer supported by Apple and they will no longer receive updates. So this will allow us to update and deliver new technology to our students,” said Andrew Diehl, technical director.
But that money isn’t just for new tablets. It will also be used to provide financial resources for students who may not have access to the Internet at home.
“We do have some hotspots that we release on a regular basis. So families just need to communicate with us about their needs,” adds Superintendent Dr. Sarah Yoder.
Teachers at John S. Clarke Elementary say that getting students familiar with technology at an early age will set them up for success when they find jobs as adults.
“This bluetooth device can simulate toys now, but in the future, they may control full-sized robots the same way they control these robots now,” said elementary school STEM teacher Riyuichi Narita.
The technology upgrade also allows schools to continue classes during inclement weather.
The Pottsville Area School District has implemented virtual learning for snow days.
“The ability to call a virtual day a virtual day rather than a snow day allows the district to stay on track and provide students with some valuable learning opportunities, especially since we do know that postsecondary education does have a lot of online instructional opportunities,” Yoder the doctor explained.
Even as technology evolves, Pottsville-area school district administrators say they’re balancing virtual days with school closures to keep the snow magic going.
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