DOVER — Tablet computers have been a part of the atmosphere at Holy Cross School in Dover for a while, but the school continues to expand their use. Students in sixth through eighth grades have had to purchase Chromebooks the last five years, and now they will be joined by the fifth grade in owning one.
Holy Cross also has ordered enough Chromebooks for the rest of its student body to use, either in one of the buildings on campus or at home, said Kate Williams, the technology coordinator and computer teacher. Many of the fourth-grade parents also have decided to purchase one for their students, she added.
“It just makes things a little bit easier for us. If we have to go to distance learning, then they have what they need,” Williams said in August.
Technology use is more limited for the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, Williams said. The school wants the kindergarteners to at least know the basics of logging in, but the pre-k doesn’t use the technology.
Delivery of the tablets was backed up about two months this summer because of overwhelming demand, but Williams said Holy Cross found out last year that they will be invaluable. Those without their own computers last March were able to use their parents’ for classwork after the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“We went home on March 13, and by that Monday my kids were ready to go,” she said. “They figured out Google Classroom. Junior high had already been using it. I’d been using Google Classroom for third and fourth grade. It’s so user-friendly.”
Every student in the school has the option to be on campus full-time this year. Holy Cross underwent a thorough cleaning and redesign in order to accommodate students, and Williams hopes they remain in the building.
With all of the technology, the school has been able to reduce the number of textbooks and other hard copies of materials that students have to use.
“We still use textbooks. We’re paper-light. We didn’t want to go paperless. I know our math teacher in the fourth and fifth grade, she wants to put as much as she can on Google Classroom just in case. We want to be prepared for everything,” Williams said.
“That doesn’t mean that they’re not going to do paper and pencil work.”
When the Chromebooks arrive, they will be ready for use. Even though the students will own the tablets, they will not be able to load their own software into them. All of the Chromebooks will be on the Holy Cross domain and subject to the school’s firewall. Teachers and other Holy Cross personnel will be able to monitor the tablets in real time.
“We have to do everything we can to make sure they aren’t seeing anything they aren’t supposed to see,” she said.