Dear SCS Board Members, Superintendent Ray, and Digital Advisory Committee Members,
Thank you for working to address the development of digital resources for all students as SCS determines the future of education as it is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are a group of community members from MICAH, Stand for Children, and 90-ONE who are committed to advocacy at the local, state, and national level to ensure that everyone plays a role in solving the challenge of the digital divide and commits to digital resource development across our community.
SCS has the most immediate ability to impact this challenge with available devices on-hand and resources supporting direct Internet access to children’s homes and into communities. We appreciate the development of the proposed plans and look forward to seeing SCS achieve the 1:1 vision laid out by Superintendent Ray, while also addressing the complicated ramifications of COVID-19 and making decisions that ensure student needs are met in the fall. As the SCS Board, Digital Advisory Committee, and Superintendent Ray’s administration addresses these issues, we hope you will support the following requests:
2020-21 Digital Resource Requests
- All students should have access to a digital device and home Internet by the start of the 2020-21 school year to ensure their learning can continue most effectively in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence and social distancing measures.
- Teachers should receive professional development and support to transition to full or partial online instruction.
- Any needed online instruction should take into account the best delivery methods (synchronous/asynchronous) to ensure the greatest opportunity of access, lesson completion, and learning support for all students.
- Students and families need clear engagement and support in distribution of devices, access to the Internet, and integration of home learning opportunities.
- Exceptional children and EL students should have individualized plans that address the accessibility of technological devices and necessary accommodations in a virtual setting.
- Provide an inclusive plan for the summer that assists in making up for lost learning time from COVID-19 school closure that addresses technology needs.
- Expand distribution of currently available devices (35,279 devices) to students who do not have devices to support summer learning efforts. Consider immediately beginning with students who have Internet access but do not have devices, while identifying options and funds for Internet access to homes without it.
- Work with Shelby County, City of Memphis, community organizations, philanthropy, and the business community to develop options for expanding Internet access across Shelby County.
- Ensure coordination and collaboration with community organizations who can assist in connecting students and families with technology and internet access.
- Consider the potential accommodations required to best serve special populations such as highly mobile students and families experiencing homelessness.
- SCS Board should pass a resolution that commits to addressing Digital Inclusion (model resolution available).
Our coalition of advocates meets monthly to move forward issues that will support the future success of our students and educational equity. We believe that addressing digital access, ensuring digital inclusion, and pushing towards digital development are vital for our students, families, and community and we appreciate the SCS Board, Superintendent Ray, the Digital Advisory Committee, and the SCS administration taking up this challenge and leading the charge. We look forward to continued opportunities to engage with the SCS board, Advisory Committee, and administration. We are available to provide further information and receive questions and comments.
Thank you for your ongoing leadership and partnership,
MICAH Education Task Force, Stand for Children, 90-ONE