Thousands of laptops and tablets are being distributed to Yukon students this week as the school district prepares to go back to class next week, virtually.
Officials with the school district said the electronic equipment is being provided to all 8,800 students in the district to ensure they have a way to attend class.
The equipment was scheduled to be handed out during parent-teacher meetings that have been planned to allow for the introduction of students to teachers. Parents of younger students, those in prekindergarten though fifth grades, are being given a crash-course on the equipment and how to log in, said district spokesperson Larrissa Lockwood.
A parent or guardian, along with the students, was to meet with teachers in 15-minute intervals this week to pick up the equipment.
Lockwood said students in seventh through 12th grades are going through drive-through events to pick up their equipment.
Students participating in virtual school will pick up their equipment next week, said Lockwood.
The equipment was purchased with a combination of funds, including more than $450,000 of CARES Act funds, along with more than $900,000 in district technology funds.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth has previously said the district already had planned to provide Chromebooks to students in ninth through 12th grades.
However, receiving the CARES funds helped move the option of providing technology to every student from a possibility to reality.
The district also is looking at ways to provide internet service to families that currently don’t have access.
Officials know some students in the district don’t have their own internet service.
To help, the district plans to place wireless hot spots at various locations throughout the community. Lockwood said many of those sites are still being determined based on surveys that parents are being asked to complete this week about connectivity.
Agreements have been finalized with some apartment complexes and mobile home parks, Lockwood said.
During the spring, the district also used a continuous learning plan that provided students with paper assignments to work with.
That will not be the case with the fall continuous learning plan. Everything will be done electronically, Simeroth said during a recent video town hall meeting.
The district also is finalizing plans for distributing meals for students.
There are two options, Lockwood said.
The first is a twice-a-week pickup, where parents will pick up meals for their children on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On Mondays, they will pick up two lunches and two breakfasts. On Wednesday, they will pick up three lunches and three breakfasts.
Or, she said, parents can visit schools from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday to pickup meals for an entire week.
The meals will be available at all schools with the exception of Yukon High School and Skyview Elementary School.
Parents do not need to visit multiple schools to pick up meals; they can get all of the meals for their children during a single stop, Lockwood said.
The meal accounts will be updated automatically, she said.
Meanwhile, the district is continuing to accept applications for free and reduced-priced meals.
Children who live in households that participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, as well as other programs, such as TANF or FDPIR, and most foster children, can receive free meals through the district.
However, the program is not only for families participating in those programs. Officials said anyone who meets the income qualifications can benefit.
A family of four can make up to $34,060 per year or $2,839 per month, and qualify for free meals. Those making $48,470 can qualify for reduced-priced meals.
Those wishing to participate must fill out an application, which is available on the district’s website, yukonps.com.