WOBURN - Superintendent Dr. Matthew Crowley and other teachers recently received a truly special delivery.
Bringing in principals and other staffers to help unbox and unwrap the shipment, hundreds of Chromebooks finally arrived in Woburn recently, the superintendent told the School Committee at their latest Joyce Middle School gathering.
According to Crowley, the special delivery was a portion of the massive order for 1,900 computers placed by the city this June in anticipation of September's hybrid school reopening.
Explaining just how significant the technology acquisition is for the district, the central office administrator explained that new Technology Department Director Jennifer Judkins had hoped to obtain a similar number of laptops over a five-year period.
But COVID-19 and the district's resulting remote learning programs have upended that traditional integrated approach to acquiring technology.
The laptops are being given to students who might not have access to a separate computer at their residences, where all of Woburn's students are learning from on a part-time basis under the district's hybrid learning model.
"As of yesterday, we had about 880 on back order still, because there's a global supply issue," the superintendent explained.
City official planned to distribute the technology to high school pupils first, before then addressing needs at Woburn's two middle schools.
The superintendent throughout the recent meeting praised Woburn's technology workers and Jennifer Judkins, the department's new director, for shouldering the monumental task of preparing for the hybrid learning program this summer.
The district's technology specialists are also trying to help teachers and staff members understand the features of new computer software and streaming video-conferencing services relied upon for virtual classrooms.
According to Crowley, as those efforts continue, he is also asking Judkins to determine whether Woburn should be purchasing additional hot-spots, or portable wireless Internet access points.
The district purchased 20 of the devices in recent months for families that might not have an Internet connection.
Many internet service providers have announced free or heavily discounted access plans for low-income households, and school officials have tried to connect eligible households with those resources.
So far, local officials have not encountered many families without a way to connect to the Internet.
"Connectivity right now isn't really a major issue, but we still want to think ahead and [consider purchasing more hotspots]," said Crowley.