San Francisco USD Department of Technology Develops Plan for Safe and Successful Device Deployment in a COVID World

The Story

Like many school districts across the United States, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is starting the 2020-21 school year remotely. The Department of Technology (DoT) for the SFUSD has made it their mission to prepare nearly 5,000 educators (over 400 of whom are new to the district) in all aspects of a digital classroom–from both a hardware and software perspective. Every minute leading up to the school year was critical to their readiness, as students’ education continues to hang in the balance.

Challenges

Safety Concerns
In preparing for the new remote school year, the health and safety of SFUSD’s teachers and the DoT staff were a top priority. At the outset, every time a teacher needed a new device or to exchange an old one, they would stop by the Help Desk Office in-person and interact with an on premises team member. Although they did everything they could to avoid in-person contact, the sheer volume of traffic was putting everyone involved at increased risk.

Staffing Concerns
Each time this type of device support was needed, a team member had to be physically onsite. Triaging the issue would gobble up a minimum of 15 minutes from the Help Desk’s schedule–not to mention the growing wait time for a tech person to become available. Whether a teacher is new to the district or a current teacher’s device needs repair, it’s imperative that teachers can access a working device as quickly as possible.

Teacher Training Needs
In order for teachers to prepare for a new way of digital teaching, they needed more time and increased Help Desk support to learn new software and be trained on best practices for remote teaching. Constant interruptions due to device deployment and hardware issues took valuable time away from the DoT team’s ability prepare teachers for their new digital classroom.

Preparing for Success

In order to streamline these challenges, SFUSD strategically placed four LocknCharge FUYL Tower Smart Lockers at the district’s centrally-located main office where it could be accessed beyond normal office hours and even on weekends. Each bay is equipped with one ready-to-go device, which simplified the process of distributing and maintaining devices to 3 easy steps without the need for any face-to-face interaction or Help Desk interruption.

San Fran

3 Easy Steps for Device Distribution

Number-1

A teacher in need of a device notifies the Help Desk through its ticketing system.

Number-2

Within 1 business day, a FUYL Tower bay is assigned to the teacher.

Number-3

The teacher retrieves the device with their 6-digit PIN and is ready to go.

“[FUYL Towers] are keeping our mission-critical team members safe and free from public interactions while effectively deploying hundreds of educator devices.”

– David Malone, Executive Director of Technology and Innovation for San Francisco Unified School District

An Uncertain Future

It’s impossible to know what the future of education will look like one month from now or even one year from now. Should schools switch to a hybrid model or an in-person model, the FUYL Tower is flexible enough to remain an extremely useful tool in any scenario:

  • 1,200 devices are being deployed via FUYL Towers to NEW teachers joining the district and returning para educators.
  • Zero physical human contact for distribution services ensures the safety of DoT staff and educators.
  • There is no difficult scheduling for device pickups or dropoffs, and hours of access are greatly increased.
  • Device deployment was shortened from as many as five days to as few as one day.
  • With LocknCharge Cloud, the Help Desk can track who retrieved a device from a Tower and when.
  • The Help Desk recovered valuable time needed to focus on teacher training.

The Outcomes

  • LocknCharge Cloud offers a streamlined way to expand the program to include student devices.
  • Devices can continue to be deployed with zero contact to new teachers or students extremely quickly.
  • Towers can be used as a repair pick-up/drop-off point to keep device downtime to a minimum.
  • Towers can easily be switched to “Public Mode” to be used as public charging stations throughout the school. This is especially helpful for 1:1 take-home device programs because students who forget to charge their device at home will be able to securely charge their device at school.
  • Towers can be placed in areas such as Family Resources Centers or other indoor spaces to allow the community easier access to devices as needed.
  • Students with housing insecurity are offered a place to safely charge and store their devices overnight.

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LocknCharge Customer Voices: FUYL Tower provides a secure space for student technology at Peace Lutheran College

Patrice Hancey, Boarding House Parent at Peace Lutheran College, explains how the FUYL Tower helps control anti-social behavior by keeping student technology locked down during specified times, as well as a secure place to store and charge their technology and other valuables.

Patrice explains that the main concerns of having technology in the boarding environment is it can be very anti social and you can have issues with online bullying if they have too much access to social media. The FUYL Tower has helped the school get past these pain points and more by providing boarding students with a secure place to store and charge their devices as well as Admins to keep an eye on how many times students are using their devices. The curfew feature has enabled the school to restrict student access to devices during curfew times.

“I particularly like them at Christmas time because you have all the green lights on and it look like you have a tech Christmas tree.”
- Patrice Hancey, Boarding House Parent at Peace Lutheran College
“Having the FUYL Tower is making it so much easier to monitor [the tech].” 
- Patrice Hancey, Boarding House Parent at Peace Lutheran College
“It’s easy maintenance, it’s easy to do and once the boarders got used to it, they love it.” 
- Patrice Hancey, Boarding House Parent at Peace Lutheran College

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LocknCharge Customer Voices: FUYL Tower has helped control the use and security of devices at Peace Lutheran College

Marcus Wilkinson, Head of Boarding at Peace Lutheran College, explains how the FUYL Tower has helped them secure devices and solve the issue of boarding students turning up to class with uncharged devices.

The FUYL Tower has helped resolve a number of issues the school was facing such as uncharged devices, lost locks and keys, insecure location and storage of devices and many more. The FUYL Tower has enabled the IT department to allocate a locker to each student and linking the locker to a students existing student card. This means that only the student and admin have access to their locker.

“The FUYL Tower has made our lives a lot easier. Being able to customize the times in which kids have access. Being able to give us a place where safely and securely the children can store their devices and all those [other] items.”
–Marcus Wilkinson, Head of Boarding at Peace Lutheran College

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LocknCharge Customer Voices: FUYL Tower has stopped the unauthorized access of devices at Peace Lutheran College

Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College, explains how the LocknCharge FUYL Tower has helped stop unauthorized access to devices by boarding students outside of allocated hours.

Prior to the FUYL Tower, students would be using devices at all times of the day and night. The school struggled to keep student devices charged and secured. Now each student has an RFID enabled student card which is used to access their allocated locker. The Curfew feature means that students no longer have access to their devices during the curfew specified times.

“Our previous solution was literally a wardrobe with a chain around it. We were finding that students were getting out of bed at 2 o’clock in the morning and getting their iPads out. Putting the FUYL Tower has really stopped all that.”

- Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College
“LocknCharge is a trusted partner of Peace Lutheran College. Always of high quality. One of the great features is being able to speak to the team at LocknCharge. They work with us very closely to customize the product to make it the best fit for the school environment.”
- Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College
“The FUYL Towers by LocknCharge have just made life so much easier here.”
- Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College

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LocknCharge Customer Voices: Student sees the importance of technology downtime at Peace Lutheran College

Tyra, Boarding Student at Peace Lutheran College, sees the importance of technology downtime to help with sleep, learning and social life and how the FUYL Tower has helped achieve this.

Tyra explains how having devices charged and ready to use at all times is important especially for boarding students to contact family, but also outlines that having charged devices is important as learning is technology based. Having the FUYL Tower has helped students become more independent and responsible by having control over their devices. This includes having devices returned during the specified curfew times and having devices charged and ready to use when needed.

“Before the FUYL Tower, everyone would be on their technology and not socializing with each other.”
- Tyra, Boarding Student at Peace Lutheran College

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