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Central Texas school districts plan laptop distribution for digital learning

Austin and Round Rock ISD are handing out thousands of laptops on Tuesday to students.

AUSTIN, Texas — Round Rock ISD and Austin ISD are handing out laptops to students for at-home learning, and folks with both school districts said they plan to practice social distancing while giving out the equipment. 

"These are just unprecedented times. It's something school districts have never had to deal with in the history of public education," said Jenny La Coste-Caputo, RRISD executive director of communications and community relations. 

Both school districts want students to have what they need during the coronavirus school cancellations.

"We do have about 16,000 laptops that we'll be distributing. A lot of our laptops already have been distributed to students here in school," said La Coste-Caputo. 

Round Rock ISD will be doing this for the rest of the week, first come, first served, at their pickup locations.

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Distribution locations:

They said they're making sure the equipment is all wiped down and disinfected.

"We're asking people to stay in their car. So, we will have to physically hand them to them, but we'll maintain as much distance as possible. Just as we're doing at our breakfast and lunch distribution sites, and those workers will be wearing gloves," said La Coste-Caputo. "We're just asking our community to be patient. We've been working very hard to create this at-home learning environment and curriculum. Our teachers are hard at work training this week and we're ready to implement it on Monday."

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As for Austin ISD, they said they normally give out laptops to eighth-grade students all the way up to high school students, but they recently ordered 6,000 more for sixth and seventh-graders.

"We're going to be running a pilot with two school buses and so we're going to be doing contactless delivery straight to the doorsteps of our students," said Cristina Nguyen, senior communication specialist with AISD. "We're providing some hand sanitizer for everyone. Because it's going to be contactless, we are trying to mitigate that exposure and make sure that we are maintaining that physical distancing."

The AISD computers will have hotspots and instruction manuals. 

"Drop off at the doorstep, ring the doorbell and step back. And so, we're not having our families sign any paperwork, it's going to be a visual confirmation that they received it," said Nguyen. 

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Austin ISD sent out a survey this weekend that identified the needs in their community and they got 4,500 responses back. They said they're using that information to figure out where we need to go and to plan out the bus routes. 

AISD and RRISD said they can get the laptops out to all the families who need it. 

You can find AISD's Learning At-Home website here. You can find RRISD's Home Learning Hub here

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