By Mary Niederberger
Pittsburgh Current Education Writer
The Pittsburgh Public Schools has distributed computer devices to all students who have indicated a need and currently has a surplus of about 1,000 devices for those who may still come forward.
Interim Chief Technology Officer Mark Stuckey said in an interview this morning that the outstanding shipments of the 7,000 computers needed to meet the needs of Pittsburgh students had come in and been distributed.
Those computers were distributed to students whose families did not have devices for them to work on. A number of district students are still working on devices provided by their families, Stuckey said.
The district is in its second week of online learning, with plans to move to a hybrid model after the first nine weeks.
District officials hope that by the end of October or early November, the 6,000 outstanding devices that have been ordered will be received and all 23,000 Pittsburgh students will have district-issued devices.
In addition, Stuckey said, data collected by the district shows that a majority of students are logging into the new e-learning system which runs on the Schoology and Microsoft Teams platforms.
He said as of 9:30 a.m. yesterday 13,591 unique student logins came through in the previous 24 hours on devices the district had distributed to students.
Looking at Schoology logins, the district could see that about 20,000 students had logged in the previous day — a total that was a combination of students using personal devices and those using district-issued devices.
He said about 1,800 students have not logged in at all and those student names have been sent to their schools, where principals and teachers are reaching out to the families to find out what obstacles are keeping them from logging in.
“It’s a huge number of students who are logging in, though not everybody. But now we are able to target those students specifically,” Stuckey said.
As an example, he said that 55 students without computers had been identified at Pittsburgh Faison K-5 in Homewood so devices have been sent there, Stuckey said.
Stuckey also explained why there are times when the e-learning system appears to slow down. He said that every student computer had an adult content filter and that as students search sites on the internet those searches come back to the district’s servers and then back out.
“So at any given point in time, say if we get a hiccup or that server gets maxed out, everyone feels it,” Stuckey said.
He said he will work to ensure the servers are upgraded as needed but that it is a process that will take time.
“Knowing that there are going to be some hiccups as we get all 23,000 kids online working with the teachers just have some patience working with us because this is the first time we are doing this ever,” Stuckey said.
“We are working through all kinds of issues. So basically have some empathy for us.”
To help families who are having trouble with their devices the district has set up technology assistance centers at five schools throughout the city. They are: PIttsburgh CAPA, Pittsburgh Carrick, Pittsburgh King, Pittsburgh Langley and Pittsburgh Obama.
The centers opened this morning and will operate from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday until Oct. 2 with evening hours available by appointment only. The district asks families to make appointments before arriving at any time but walk-ins will be permitted. Families must bring their device, charger and student login information.
Families can schedule an appointment by visiting www.pghschools.org/
Families are required to practice social distancing and wear a mask during appointments.