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Ask Us: Do RSS students need to turn in old devices?

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools does not plan to immediately collect old devices from students in an effort to keep the beginning of classes as simple as possible.

That answer comes in response to a reader question about whether students should keep iPads from last school year, about wireless internet accessibility and virtual learning being a possible option for classes to resume in the fall.

Students are set to begin school with their old devices. The district approved a contract for new technology for students and educators, but it has not collected all devices students already have. The district did seek to collect devices from seniors and those who knew they would not return for the upcoming school year.

The district is in the midst of an upset bid process to sell its old devices.

The district, meanwhile, has left the Wi-Fi networks open and available at all of its facilities for public use. It also has distributed some mobile hotspots to try and get internet access to most students as possible. Purchasing more mobile hotspots has been mentioned at meetings, but there’s been no action taken by the school board.

The district has received some special funding to provide services in two key areas: feeding programs during the pandemic and support for distance learning. The district also received some additional chargers from Apple, with which it contracts with to provide all of its portable devices, but RSS administration says technology generally is in short supply. The shortage of electronics is due to a combination of factory shutdowns in China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and mass purchasing as organizations like school districts suddenly have an increased need in order to provide services at all.

Gov. Roy Cooper backed out of making a tentative decision on how schools will open in August last week and has made no announcement of a new date for such a decision. Cooper’s decision likely will determine whether students return to school buildings at all or online-only learning is the way classes are handled for the coming year. One option he’s considering could require students to be at schools in shifts or on alternate days. That option also would require more remote learning than a normal year.

RSS was already holding occasional elearning days under normal circumstances and is creating a virtual K-8 for the upcoming school year. High school students already have those options, including a virtual academy at East Rowan High School that’s open to every student in the district.

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