Future-Proof to be Pandemic Ready — Now is the time!

April 13, 2020

As a school district IT Admin or Leader, you are essential to America functioning in the unfortunate new normal—you operate the largest networks in the country and in your cities. None of us know when this is going to end but more and more districts are closing across the country for the remainder of the school year. After the initial shock, district IT staff have performed nothing short of a miracle to deploy distance learning while short on staff, devices, and budget. Thank you!

Now the question is, how can you go beyond today and plan for tomorrow? Many experts have expressed the possibility that this may become the new normal. In other words, when we get back in session, is there a potential for a “flare-up”. Do we then resort back to shelter in place and distance learning? What if there is another virus in a couple of years? How should your district prepare for the future?

Ensure your district is “pandemic-ready” for potential future shutdowns. Now is a GREAT time to prepare for it.

The Facts:

  • Most School IT staff are working remotely
  • Most district fiscal years start in July, so there is still time to budget
  • $13.5 billion was released as part of the CARES Act which allows a waiver for Title IV funds to be used for distance learning. 100% of what you determine is needed for distance learning can be purchased with a small waiver. Historically, this has only been 15%.
  • Title one requirements are mostly waived regardless of the percentage, for free and reduced lunch children
  • U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos may waive the IDEA temporarily to support distance learning. This is designed to encourage distance learning for all students even if temporarily violating IDEA, ESSA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

What you can do:

  • Accelerate your 5-year technology plan
  • Hire and perform professional development for all of your teaching staff
  • Train and hire more instructional technologists
  • Go as close to 1:1 as you can NOW by purchasing devices you can cloud-manage
  • Grow your cloud security across the spectrum across your SIS and remote employee PII
  • Move to Azure and/or Google Admin—your VAR can help you with pro services
  • Challenge your vendors!
  • Perform multi-product POCs with defined success criteria
  • Identify if you need a CASB (cloud access security broker) provider
  • Look for a cloud MDM provider (Filewave, Jamf, etc.) You can still deploy if you’re already using local AD.
  • Look for cloud services that can enable parents to set schedules in homeschooling
  • Look for connectivity contracts through your ISPs or Telco providers
  • Sign up for Zoom and look for providers that integrate
  • Purchase and trial cyber safety products such as Gaggle. They integrate with many filters and other companies to keep kids safe

Now is the time to bring your district to the next level, technically. Good luck!


Topics: Distance Learning

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