KT Connections Blog

Is Your School Remote Ready?


As the South Dakota school season continues in full swing, many school districts are still finding their sea-legs. While the state provided guidelines, ultimately, the decision on which model to use—in-person, hybrid, or remote—is left to the individual school districts. Now that schools are open, the reality is many superintendents were grasping with technology to make an informed decision about how to implement distance learning. Fortunately, real-world experience has helped clarify issues, and there has been time to formulate strategies. Here are some tips for schools to better support hybrid or fully remote learning models.

South Dakota and COVID-19

Whether you're a business, individual, or in this case, a school, South Dakota's Department of Health's website has been providing localized information about COVID-19 to South Dakotans since the beginning. These guides strive to offer sound business and health advice when dealing with COVID-19. As the school year progresses, the new normal of distance learning is now firmly an entrenched reality. Now is the time to evaluate whether your school district provides your students with the best learning opportunities.

Fortunately, the South Dakota Department of Education's Starting Well guideline offers a wide range of information to assist schools in navigating the situation at hand. These guidelines help schools, students, and parents better understand the crisis, what's expected of them, and how the state plans to continue to provide support as the school year continues. 

South Dakota mandated each school district develop a reopening plan, including supporting a fully remote learning environment in case it is needed. As we have seen throughout the country, once students return to school, there is a possibility there will be a new outbreak. Depending on the intensity of the outbreak, the school may need to close, at least temporarily. Unless there is a plan already in place, the school is at significant risk of being unable to serve its students. 

Now that schools have begun in-person education, we have seen that South Dakota's Department of Education's concerns had merit. As students have returned to the classroom, we have seen education based outbreaks in various counties in South Dakota, resulting in a greater reliance on distance learning. So the question remains: does your school district have a viable remote learning plan in place?

Is Your School Really Remote Ready?

South Dakota isn't unique in trying to navigate the current challenges. Fortunately, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD) recognizes that many school districts may have had difficulties adapting and has released a series of guides to assist South Dakota school districts. While the guides can be of great value, they can also overwhelm educators who are not familiar with the technical requirements needed to get their schools remote ready.

As the situation continues to change regarding COVID-19 and your students, superintendents must continuously evaluate their school districts’ readiness for distance learning.

Here are some questions you should consider answering to ensure a successful outcome:

  • Do all of your students and staff have access to the internet? If so, is it reliable?
  • What are the contingencies for those without adequate internet access?
  • Will you be providing computing devices? If not, do they have access to an adequate device? 
  • Are your students and teachers familiar with the devices you're going to be providing them?
  • Will your team be able to provide any necessary support (training and technical) to your students?
  • Who will be training your team or ‘technology champions’ to assist?
  • Do you have a plan for students with disabilities?
  • Who is troubleshooting technology problems for you and your students?

If you're still unsure if your school district is remote ready, you're not alone. Fall is here, your students are back, and if your plan is falling a bit short it's not too late, and the first step you can make is scheduling a IT assessment for your organization.

KT Connections Can Provide The Support Your District Needs

As South Dakota's premier technology expert, KT Connections can provide solutions to help your teachers, staff, and students navigate the world of remote learning. Our extensive range of solutions and managed IT services will give you access to top-tier technologies, and our flat-rate fee structure can allow you to budget for these services without breaking the bank.

High-Speed Internet Consultation Services: find the broadband connection that's right for your district. There's no doubt about it; if your school needs to go fully remote, you will find that your previous data requirements will pale in comparison to what you will need now. Our internet consulting will allow you to get the most out of the web, and we can help find you an internet provider you can rely on.

Hardware and Software Procurement: As a South Dakota HP partner, KT Connections has access to a wide range of hardware to suit your students' learning needs. There are inexpensive devices well-suited for students while utilizing reliable HP technology. Regardless of your technology needs, HP makes it easy for your team to work remotely.

Communication and Collaboration: With remote learning, communication is the key to success. Investing in video streaming and conferencing technologies such as Zoom will allow your teachers and students to feel connected. Additionally, Zoom can assist students who are more comfortable with visual learning and remain on task when working on specific projects or concepts. Finally, Microsoft Teams can keep your remote students engaged by providing your educators secure online classrooms, webinars, and a wealth of communication and collaboration tools. 

Infrastructure Support: Technology stability is critical to ensuring your faculty can do their jobs. Remote monitoring and management are essential to preventing events from occurring and allowing for the quick resolution of issues that arise. The ability to monitor your technology (computers, printers, servers) remotely is necessary due to social distancing as there is a limited amount of staff on site.

Your School District Doesn’t Have To Go It Alone

While it is true that South Dakota school districts are responsible for developing their reopening plans, that doesn't mean you have to go it alone. As local technology experts, KT Connections is familiar with South Dakota schools' unique needs, and we have the experience to help your district get past any challenges.

Our technicians have extensive familiarity with many hardware, software, networking, and other IT-related products school districts, educators, and students depend upon. As Rapid City's most knowledgeable IT professionals, we can provide all of the technology and advice the schools in your district need now and in the future. Call 605-341-3873 today to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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