Photo courtesy SISD
While educators and administrators in the Socorro Independent School District have been adjusting plans for instruction and essential functions, the Technology Services department has been providing invaluable support in all realms of district operations.
Team SISD’s technology employees have been working day and night to provide staff with connections to district servers and support to find and use internet/intranet resources and to provide students and families with wi-fi connections, laptops and other resources for remote learning.
“We understand there are families in our district who don’t have laptops,” said Chief Technology Officer Hector Reyna. “We collected over 4,500 computers we had for district use, classroom labs, etc. and re-imaged them so we could repurpose them for our students.”
The laptops were made available first to high school seniors who needed a device for remote learning, and now are being offered to other students in need. Students who needed a laptop were able to pick one up at a special drive-through distribution site established at the District Service Center. Technology Services staff set up the distribution site following social distancing standards and took extra precautions to keep staff and students/parents safe.
Some 1,700 laptops were distributed in the last seven days. The remaining devices will be distributed in upcoming days. During the laptop distributions, the technology team assists with computer preparations and data entry, while runners help to get the laptops through various stations at the DSC and then to the families.
The Technology Services team also was key in successfully executing SISD’s first-ever live streamed audio board meeting on March 24. “A huge thank you to our amazing Technology Department for making our first teleconference board meeting a success,” said SISD Board President Cynthia Najera on Twitter.
The regular board meeting was streamed on YouTube and available to the community via a dial-in system. The meeting gained up to 300 listeners at one point.
“When I would close my eyes, it felt like everything was happening there in the board room,” Reyna said. “We are very proud of our team in technology for making the meeting go smoothly as well as the Board and Dr. Espinoza for making it happen.”
The ability to hold the meeting while following the City/County “Stay Home, Work Safe” order was critical for the district to maintain critical functions during the district closure. One key item presented to Trustees was the approval to purchase 1,000 additional hotspots that will be made available to students who do not have home internet access, adding to remote learning support structures.
The SISD technology team also has been instrumental in supporting the Team SISD Remote Learning Academy.
“We want our students to continue learning during these times of uncertainty,” said Miguel Moreno, SISD instructional technology coordinator. “We are doing our best to provide the support for our teachers, administrators, parents and students because we are having to operate in a different mode while still in line with our state standards.”
The technology team has been conducting daily teleconferences for Professional Learning Communities, State Compensatory Education (SCEI) coaches, and Content Advisory Committees. They also have been supporting SISD campus staff with any technical issues they may be having with equipment, software, websites and licenses and subscriptions to resources.
Instructional technology specialists also developed training materials for Nearpod presentations that can be shared with teachers and parents. Nearpod is an online student engagement platform being widely used for remote learning.
SISD campus librarians have a key role in the Remote Learning Academy, as well. They have been providing accounts and password credentials for each student in their campus so they can have access to remote learning. Library and technology staff also have been providing a variety of resources for teachers to continue with their curriculum as if they were teaching in the classroom.
“Collectively, we all just come together to where we overlap and we support each other to make everything happen,” Moreno said. “We encourage everyone to contact our help desk with any questions, comments or concerns so we can get them to the right person to help them in a timely manner.”
The SISD Help Desk provides assistance for employees, parents and students, who have questions concerning remote learning.
The help desk can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through telephone at 915-937-1111 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.