Back to school 2016: Protecting your device

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 12, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

In the 2015-16 school year, Rowan-Salisbury Schools reported 1,042 electronic devices damaged and 100 devices lost or stolen. Rowan-Salisbury School’s Director of Digital Innovation Andrew Smith said that the number is relatively low considering that the district has 16,000 devices going home 180 nights a year – a total of 2.8 million trips over the course of a school year.

“Our devices travel quite a bit,” Smith said.

But to help keep the number even lower, Smith offered this advice to parents or students.

Avoid liquid at all costs. 

“Technology has become kind of an extension of our everyday life,” Smith said.

It’s not unusual for tech users to have a Coke or a glass of water sitting near their laptop while they’re busy at work, but liquids pose a constant danger. Smith said that most damage done to school-issued devices in the last year was caused by liquids.

A simple, clear cover that overlays a keyboard can be a simple solution that can make all the difference if there’s an accidental spill.

Invest in a laptop case. A form-fitting, plastic hard case to cover the laptop’s body can help protect the device during a fall. While it may not sustain a full-blown drop, Smith said, it adds an extra layer of protection from bumps and bruises.

Use the carrying case. School-issued iPads come equipped with a case that Smith said can survive drops from tables, and teachers instruct younger students in best practices with their device. The same isn’t true of laptops. But they do come with a carry case.

If students are taking laptops home, or ferrying them to and from classrooms, the laptop should be in the case. Smith said that a lot of laptop damage occurs during moves, but if it’s in its carry case, the device will usually survive the fall.

And if a device is lost, or reported stolen? There are a few simple fixes.

Students can go online to and sign in. If the device was misplaced and students have an idea of where they left it, they can use an app on the website to remotely trigger their device to make a noise.

If a device is assumed stolen, the same sites can be used to track the device’s GPS location.

“And that really helps us recover those devices,” Smith said.

All devices assumed stolen should be reported immediately to an administrator, and then the school system will file a police report. In order to cut down on thefts, Smith said that it’s important for students to know where their device is at all times, and not to leave it out somewhere — even if they think the area is safe.