Due to the extended school closures through at least April 24, Metro Nashville Public Schools began distributing laptops on March 31 to high school seniors who need access to online resources.
High school seniors, particularly students who are working on recovery credits needed to graduate, can contact 615-269-5956 to make a reservation to receive one, according to the district’s website.
“Seniors have been our priority,” Chief Academic Officer David Williams said at a virtual town hall meeting on March 30. “We know that they have been working hard to earn credits towards graduation, and we’re working hard to make sure that they have every available opportunity and support to earn those credits.”
Although the district is prioritizing senior students, Williams said the district is working on a plan to provide devices such as laptops to other students at a later time.
“We’re working on a long-range plan that will include making devices and other technology accessible and available,” Williams said. “We do have an equity divide and a digital gap that we want to make sure we are closing, so that will include working with our community partners to identify where those needs are and how we can rise to meet those needs and include opportunities for all kids to learn.”
In the meantime, school officials are encouraging families to take advantage of educational resources available through the district.
Educational resources are available in a blog post on the district’s website as well as at www.mnps.org/digitaltools, where families and students can access online textbooks and other instructional resources. Students also have access to programs like Limitless Libraries, a partnership between MNPS and Nashville Public Library, which provides free access to audiobooks, eBooks and other resources.
While the resources available to students are optional, Director of Schools Adrienne Battle said MNPS does not plan to implement remote learning, as some students do not have access to either the internet or to devices to complete online assignments.
“We must eliminate technology equity gaps that leave many of our students without computers or internet access when schools are closed,” Battle said. “We must see that our students experiencing the greatest needs are having those needs met, even when the public health demands that we keep our distance.”
According to Battle, the Tennessee State Board of Education is expected to discuss graduation requirements and other expectations for seniors at its April 9 meeting.