Lone Grove school board approves technology user agreement policy

Michael D. Smith
The Lone Grove Board of Education prepares for a regular meeting Monday. The board approved a technology policy that parents or guardians must sign before equipment can be checked out for home use.

Parents of Lone Grove students that check out technology for home use will have to first sign a user agreement. The new policy comes ahead of any widespread need for distance learning equipment but was approved to protect that equipment should the need arise. 

Lone Grove Public Schools Superintendent Meri Jayne Miller told the board Monday that the policy will make students and parents accountable for computers and hot spots issued for home use.

“We feel like we needed to have something in place as far as guidelines, use, maintenance, how to properly care for those devices, and have that as part of our school policy,” said Miller.

The three-page policy outlines proper care and maintenance for Chromebooks and usage of internet access. For example, users will be prohibited from accessing obscene material or sharing personal information over the internet while using hot spots. 

The policy also reminds users that activity can be monitored when using school-issued devices and that email correspondence should not be considered confidential.

“All email and all email contents are property of Lone Grove School District,” reads the policy.

Miller said that the system already had 600 Chromebooks before the pandemic but needed to update the usage policy since equipment was not available to be removed from school property until distance learning plans were implemented.

The Lone Grove Board of Education on Monday also approved a service agreement for 60 wireless hot spots issued by the state education department last month. The equipment was part of a grant that distributed 50,000 hot spots to 175 school districts across Oklahoma ahead of the current academic year. 

The devices were sold to the Oklahoma State Department of Education and distributed based on technological surveys conducted by school districts over the summer. While districts did not incur costs for the equipment, they are responsible for the $10 monthly service fee per device.

Lone Grove was originally given 40 of the hot spots, but Miller said in a Tuesday email that 20 more were later obtained from OSDE. These hot spots, with unlimited data through Verizon, are in addition to other T-Mobile hot spots purchased with federal funds from the $2.2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package.

Miller explained to the board that the hot spot equipment from OSDH can be kept by the district until the end of the national emergency brought on by the pandemic or through June 2021, whichever comes later.

Board president Darryl Howard asked if there has been a need for the technology to be checked out, to which Miller responded “not yet.” Lone Grove is among school systems in Carter County that have not announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 among faculty or students.

In the event students are impacted, wireless hot spots issued by OSDE are reserved for low-income students. Principals will review the new technology user agreement with parents when an item is issued to a student.

“If for some reason they did have to quarantine, then they could check out a device if they did not have one available and have that at home so there will be no educational gaps,” Miller said.