El Paso ISD’s Information Tech Department keeping district connected during distance learning

Virtual learning in EPISD means thousands of students and teachers must log on to a myriad of digital platforms using District-issued devices linked to home WiFi networks or hotspots.

It’s a carefully orchestrated system that makes teaching and learning possible during the global pandemic.

Behind it all is a team of 18 EPISD professionals from the District’s Information Technology Department who have spent weeks working around the clock fixing and distributing devices critical for teaching and learning from home.

The team worked tirelessly well before the first day of school at the IT offices on Boeing, Murchison and the District Operations Center managing and resolving help desk calls. They also were busy fixing, imaging, configuring and distributing devices to ensure students and employees can work anywhere.

Their faces and names may not be known by many of the thousands of people who use their services, but their work have made them unsung heroes in EPISD.

“Our technicians are the first responders for any issue that might arise to include computer support, audio visual, network and wireless,” said Vince Piña, operations deployment manager. “At this time, we are solving 200 tickets a day while also working on the iPad and MacBook Air deployment.”

The process starts from the ZenDesk and moves along as technicians first try to resolve issues remotely. Those more serious issues require users to set up an appointment for fixing at either Ed Center Boeing or the IT offices at on Murchison. From there, students and employees can drop off their broken devices and get a loaner through curbside service.

“One of the most important roles in our department has always been to make sure all of our students have a device to attend class,” said technology specialist Terry Brewster. “Being able to help our students and staff gives me as a parent and technician a great sense of accomplishment.”

Devices typically take a week to repair onsite, however, those iPads and MacBook Airs still under warranty are sent back to Apple for repair. All technicians are Apple Certified to work on both iPads and MacBook Airs, so those not under warranty can still be fixed on-site. Once repaired, another curbside appointment for the exchange to ensure a safe transfer of devices.

“Devices that are issued out are cleaned and disinfected. When we get a device, it is also cleaned and disinfected,” Piña said. “Appointments are scheduled in 15 minutes intervals to avoid lines at these locations.”

Brewster has solved many easily fixable problems by phone – especially software issues or charger malfunctions.

“My son is in sixth grade this year, so I can understand as a parent how important our online process is to all our students in our District,” Brewster said. “Customer service is very important to everyone we meet in life. I always try to give five-star service.”

Story by Reneé De Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD