Cedar Rapids Community School District working to provide internet to thousands of students

Published: Aug. 25, 2019 at 6:58 PM CDT
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High school students at the Cedar Rapids Community School District are starting the year with a brand new tool.

This school year, over 5,000 Chromebooks are going into the hands of high school students.

CRSD says it chose well-vetted software that many other districts use too.

Parents also get weekly reports on internet history.

“It's preparing them for the world in front of them,” said Noreen Bush, CRCSD interim superintendent. “I can’t think of one job market that doesn't say technology has impacted how they do their work.”

While there's access to internet during the school day, district leaders want education to continue at home.

“We need equity and access for every child in our school district,” Bush said.

The district talked with local internet providers to offer lower cost internet for families.

And - it received a grant through the '1Million Project Foundation' to provide hot spots to over 200 families in the district.

One of the challenges the district faced was identifying families to take part in the program.

While some families considered having a smartphone at home as having access to internet, the district wants students to have more than that to get homework done.

“This will allow families and students to practice, to do homework, to reach out, and do some real world projects to connect with people across the world, and not just be tethered to the four walls of the school,” said Ryan Rydstrom, CRCSD director of access and instructional design.

Providing more tools to teach is just another reason to be excited for the first day of school.

“The more access we can provide them, it breaks down those barriers,” said Bush.

“It's just going to be super exciting to see the kids get the devices, it's awesome, it's just a great moment for us,” Rydstrom said.