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Marietta City Schools distributing laptops, tablets

Middle School Teacher Brianna Johnson, left, brings the district’s device loan agreement paperwork to Bridget Crock, center, and her mother Desni, right, and younger sister Anna, back, as they pull into the Marietta Middle School parking lot for device pickup Wednesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Lines formed at Marietta City Schools academic buildings Wednesday for the first of three days of device distribution.

“Hi! What’s your student’s name?” Brittany Schob, Marietta Middle School Principal began, as she greeted families driving up the hill in a single-file coned line. “I’m Mrs. Schob, nice to meet you.”

She was masked, students in the vehicles were often masked, as were parents and guardians.

She then ran back up the stairs to the gymnasium entrance, checked which cohort that child was in, and ran back down to the vehicle to share that information with the start dates: Cohort 1 (in-person blended learner) starting in the building on Aug. 24; Cohort 2 (in-person, blended learner) starting in the building on Aug. 31; Cohort 3 (fully remote learner) just present to pick up the device and get logged in.

Then, Brianna Johnson, a seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher followed closely behind with clipboard in hand.

Washington Elementary School Principal Alicia McIntire discusses device distribution with a staff member in the library Wednesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“Here’s your device loan agreement, you can take that home to read and it tells you what you’re responsible for,” explained Johnson. “Then I’ll need you to sign here and to print the student’s name and grade here.”

The loan agreement packet distributed was the same at the elementary schools and high school; six pages sectioned between purpose, rules, financial responsibilities and replacement costs, and the general precautions, care and responsibilities expected of both parents and students.

And device pickup will continue today and Friday at all of the districts’ academic buildings, allowing for times when a parent or guardian may stop in, sign, log in and ask a few questions concerning the technology.

“For those families that are most in need, we do have an application process to apply for hot spots,” Jona Hall, director of curriculum and technology explained. “Some of it does have to do with your home location and some has to do with income.”

Those applications were also available at the pickup spots, as the school district utilizes this week to determine who and how great the need for supplemental aid will be.

Left to right: Mark Johnson, Tim Fleming and Jake Eckelberry, check out laptops for middle school students under a tent in the school parking lot Wednesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“School does start next Wednesday,” Hall reminded. “It just looks different to start.”

Beginning Aug. 19, all students are to begin logging into their Google classroom accounts, and begin the online homework assignments with their parents to familiarize each other with how the online instruction and device will work in their homes.

“By the end of next week I would like for every student to have logged into their device and accessed their Google classroom that they’re going to be a part of and communicated to their teacher that they have done so,” Hall explained.

That dialogue with your child’s teachers from the beginning will be key, she said.

“And we are posting some videos for kids to watch about health and safety and videos to watch about the device they have,” said Hall. “Those first three days, It’s small baby steps getting everyone comfortable with these devices.”

Teachers and administrators at Washington Elementary School sit in the library with parents to log them into their children’s laptops and tablets Wednesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Then instruction begins Aug. 24 for all students of the district.

For Desni Crock, of Marietta, and her two daughters Bridget, 13, and Anna, 11, nerves are jousting with feelings of hope and faith looking at the beginning of the school year.

“Bridget is high risk, so yes, we’re nervous,” said Desni. “But we decided that the protocol that they’ve set up I think is really smart and I think it’s going to be very successful.”

Reflecting on the abrupt shifts in learning this spring, Bridget and Anna shrugged their shoulders when asked how the school year ended.

“It was crappy,” chuckled Desni. “It was difficult, especially for Anna, because she was a fifth-grader and so she missed out on all of the special things they do to conclude elementary school…But I think she is going to flourish in middle school.”

At Washington Elementary, Johanna Baker, stood in line outside the northern most entrance facing Fourth Street, her second device pickup stop of the day.

“I went to the high school first,” she said, noting her next stop would be the middle school. “I figured why not get it all done in one day.”

But before stepping in the doors of the elementary, checking in and slipping down the stairs into the school’s library, she also noted the magnitude of the logistics for the school systems in providing these devices and determining which students attend on which days.

“I cannot imagine what a challenge it has been to coordinate all of this,” she said.

So while it was a hot day to be waiting outside, there was still at least progress towards some sort of new normal.

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