Livingston Schools Receive $4.4 Million CARES Act Grant to Enhance Safety and Student Access to Learning
Investment Will Provide 1-to-1 Computer Access and Improved Internet Access for Students
LIVINGSTON, La. – Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced today that the district has been awarded a $4.4 million federal grant under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), to be invested in three priority areas:
• To continuously maintain clean and disinfected campuses;
• To increase the number of computers and laptops available to students, bringing the district to a “better than” one-to-one student-to-computer ratio; and
• To improve student access to Internet and WiFi services through investments in on-campus and off-campus access points and hotspots, thereby enhancing the reach and clarity of the district’s continuous distance learning efforts.
Murphy noted that the funding will be invested in accordance with guidelines set by the Louisiana Department of Education. Those guidelines prioritize a “strong start for every student,” and a continuous education plan for the district. The “strong start” aspect of the prioritization ensures every student’s academic needs are identified, that a plan is developed for all students – including extra time and support – for them to overcome unfinished learning from the prior school year, and clear steps for every high schooler/graduate to enter the new economy.
At the same time, the continuous education planning priority includes investing in technology and Internet services for greater student access to continuous distance learning, as well as investing in preparing all teachers to effectively deliver standards-aligned instruction through the blended learning strategies.
Murphy said Livingston Schools will increase its number of available take-home laptops to a one-to-one ratio – meaning, every child at every grade level on every campus will have access to a take-home device, if needed. Livingston Parish Public Schools has more than 26,000 students enrolled in grades K-12.
At the same time, he said the district will increase the number of computers available for in-classroom use. He anticipates having portable computer carts, which are equipped with approximately 30-35 laptops in each, to be managed by subject areas on campuses across the parish.
“Our plan is to intentionally incorporate more interaction with portable devices in the classroom to prepare our students for a seamless, more successful transition to remote learning if that were to become necessary on a large scale,” Murphy said. “Not only is this strategy necessary for managing concerns with COVID-19, but it also prepares our people for seamless responses to storms or other unforeseen crises.”
“And let’s be honest, having our students equipped and confident to transition between traditional learning strategies and blended distance-learning strategies has become a necessary skill in our current world,” he said.
Murphy said the school system is also working with community leaders to add fixed Internet access points across the parish, creating a significant number of access points and hotspots for students to connect to class sessions and other learning opportunities provided by Livingston Schools.
“We know that some families in the parish do not have adequate Internet service right now to support a continuous learning program. That’s why we will be working with communities to create access points and provide hotspots that can boost service, allowing for greater, uninterrupted Internet access for all our students,” Murphy said.
Murphy said school officials are hoping to make all the necessary purchases on technology and equipment this summer to have the devices in place at each campus by the start of the new school year in August, and to have most access points and hotspots in place by the start of the year.