HARLINGEN – The Harlingen school district will hold orientation later this month to prepare parents and students for online learning.
When classes begin Sept. 8, the first four weeks will be taught online. In a district with a poverty rate of 80.2 percent, this presents a problem. Many families lack the financial resources to purchase Internet access or the digital devices necessary for virtual learning. Paradoxically, the children in those families are some of the district’s highest academic achievers. The Harlingen district is reaching out to both parents and students to accommodate all families.
“They will get a call from their campus to let them know when the orientation is going to be,” said Veronica Kortan, administrator for organizational development for the Harlingen district.
“It’s not going to be a face to face,” she said. “It will be through Zoom. But we will have orientations that our parents and our students will have to attend. Then the week of Aug. 24 is when they can come pick up their devices.”
Those devices will be I-pads, Chromebooks or laptops. The orientation will teach parents and students the specifics of their usage. They must understand the devices are to be used strictly for instructional purposes. Students will do their part by staying actively engaged in class and keeping up with grades.
“It is going to be an accountability for our parents,” Kortan said. “It’s going to be something that, we’re happy to give them devices, it’s just something they have to take very seriously with the usage.”
I-pads will be the device of choice for elementary schoolchildren. If that doesn’t work for a particular student, he or she can choose a Chromebook. Middle schoolers will also receive Chromebooks. High school students will have a choice of either I-pads, Chromebooks, or laptops. Kortan said the district offers a wider choice because one device doesn’t fit the need of every student.
“As our kids are getting ready to make their way to college and the workforce, we want them to be able to work on a device that they’re comfortable with,” she said.
Individual high school campuses will determine which device goes to each student. Part of that determination will be made from contact with each student to assess need.