2018-19 Student Chromebook FAQ
All WPS students grades 6-12 are required to bring a laptop computer to school for classwork and homework. The district offers Chromebooks to any 6-12 student who needs one at no cost, with additional insurance available for those households who would like it. Students who already have a device may bring them to school provided they meet the criteria outlined below. If you have additional questions please call the Technology Office at 401-734-3045 and we’ll do our best to answer them.
Q: Is the Chromebook mandatory for my student?
A: The district Chromebook is not mandatory. What is expected is that your student will come to class every day come September with a compatible device for classwork and homework. The district is offering a Chromebook at no cost to every Gr. 6-12 student, but each household is certainly welcome to decline it and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Your device should be a relatively new Chromebook or a Windows/Mac laptop computer – the latter would have to be checked by the IT staff for adequate security software so the school’s network isn’t compromised.
NEW! Q: Can students bring their own devices (BYOD) rather than use a district Chromebook?
A: Certainly! We only ask that the BYOD devices meet the following criteria before being allowed access to school wifi:
- Chromebook: must be 2 years old or newer, have fully updated ChromeOS (latest version at this writing is 67.0.3396.xxx), able to log in with warwickschools.org Google account, 5Ghz wifi.* That last requirement is important – laptops more than a few years old may not have a 5GHz wifi card and thus will be unable to connect to the district’s wifi.
- Windows: running Windows 8/10, fully patched and updated, 5 Ghz wifi*, Google Chrome installed, have installed and functioning security software and be verified malware-free (scan must be run to verify)
- Mac: running macOS El Capitan (10.11) or newer (10.12/10.13 Sierra/High Sierra are preferred), OS is fully patched and updated, 5Ghz wifi*, Google Chrome installed, up-to-date security software highly recommended but not required (WPS recommends Sophos Free for Mac or Avast Free for Mac)
- Tablets: Any tablet that is 1 year old or newer may be sufficient for student work, but due to some mobile device limitations students may not have the full functionality or usability of a laptop computer (printing, Android apps, Chrome extensions, etc.)
School tech personnel will arrange to review student BYOD devices during the first few days of school – if they are found to meet criteria they will be connected to the school’s wifi network.
Student devices that don’t meet these criteria will not be permitted to join the network – families will be asked to remedy the problems, upgrade the device, or get a Chromebook from the district.
If a student decides mid-year to accept a district-issued Chromebook we are more than happy to provide one!
* A note on 5Ghz wifi: Any laptop identified as “dual-band” should support 5Ghz, but laptops more than a few years old (and a few new, lower-cost models) may not support our 5Ghz wifi network. This means that students wouldn’t be able to use them in school as they are. This is not a deal-breaker, however – many USB adapters that provide 5Ghz wifi access are available at low cost. Here is one we recommend:
Q: How much does the district-provided insurance cost? Is it required?
A: Insurance is entirely optional, and it is in effect for the life of the Chromebook (3 years). The purpose of the insurance is to protect you, the Chromebook holder, from the financial risk of accidental damage or loss of your Chromebook. You do not have to re-purchase insurance in subsequent years – it is good for the life of the Chromebook. The cost is dependent upon your family’s free/reduced lunch status. Insurance is free to any student with an IEP. Here is the chart of insurance costs:
- $40 – regular price
- $20 – reduced lunch price
- $0 – free lunch/IEP price
Households with multiple students receive 50% off the full price for the additional students. If you like you can download the Chromebook Insurance Form and print/fill it out prior to receiving your Chromebook.h
Q: What is in the agreement students and parents are asked to sign? Is it required?
A: The student/parent agreement can be viewed here: WPS Student Chromebook Agreement. It is required to be signed by both parents and students in order for a Chromebook to be issued.
Q: When will Chromebooks be distributed in 2018?
A: There will not be a central “Chromebook Carnival” this year, instead we’ll be handing out Chromebooks to students during the SIMS Middle School Orientation week (beginning 8/20) and on the orientation days for 6th/9th graders at the start of school.
NEW! Q: Can the Chromebook be used with a non-warwickschools.org Google account?
A: No. These Chromebooks are “bound” to WPS’s Google Domain and cannot be disassociated from that or accessed by external Google accounts. They would be useless to anyone who doesn’t have a district Google account.
Q: Do students keep the Chromebook after graduation?
A: Not this year – the machines still have usable life in them and we’ll need to collect them from the Class of 2019.
Q: Can a student turn in a Chromebook for the summer rather than take it home?
A: Yes, quite a few families have chosen to do this, the school offices will accept these Chromebooks on the last day of school and hold them safely until the start of school in the fall.
Q: Does the School Department monitor the device? And how? (through activity, camera, etc.)
A: WPS monitors 1:1 student Chromebooks using an online service called GoGuardian Admin. Using the features available, the district collects information on students’ web searches, sites visited, YouTube videos watched, and blocked pages attempted. We can also filter the sites accessible to students so they don’t see inappropriate web content and see/block Chrome extensions they have installed. GoGuardian does have the ability to track devices in case of theft, but this feature has not been actively employed by the district as we have not yet had cause to track stolen devices.
WPS is reviewing our monitoring policy as it relates to a recent report released by the RI ACLU regarding student privacy, 1:1 devices, and district policies. There are considerable issues to be worked through with respect to student safety, the district’s CIPA obligations, during/after school monitoring responsibilities, and community expectations surrounding the safety of these devices. WPS is working with the ACLU, RISTE, and other districts to craft a privacy and protection policy that is up-to-date with respect to all of these concerns – it is a complicated landscape!
NEW! Q: What if my student’s Chromebook is having trouble or broken?
A: Chromebooks are relatively simple compared to traditional Windows/Mac laptops, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have issues. Google’s “Fix Chromebook Problems” page has a ton of great info on how to address various problems yourself, but that’s what the WPS Tech Team is here for too. If your student’s Chromebook is broken and/or experiencing difficulties, simply have her/him bring it to the school library. There the librarian will provide a loaner Chromebook, and the laptop will be looked at and repaired by the school’s computer tech support.
Some simple things to try would be:
- Hold down the power button for 5-10 seconds to turn the unit off, then press it again for 1-2 seconds
- Look for the small “up arrow” in the bottom right corner of the laptop indicating a system update is available – select it to update your Chromebook
- Google any error messages or symptoms and see what you find – odds are someone else has had the same issue before you
Q: Are devices available in the classroom?
A: A limited number of Chromebooks are available for check-out from the schools’ libraries. They are for use by students and/or teachers lacking a device during the school day, whether it’s because of damage, loss, battery charge, or loss of privileges. The intention is that these devices are for temporary use until the permanent Chromebook has been returned.
NEW! Q: How do I connect the Chromebook to my wifi/printer?
A: To connect your student’s Chromebook to your home wifi, follow these instructions: Connect your Chromebook to Wi-fi.
Printing at home from a Chromebook is a bit more complex because unfortunately not all printers support this. To connect to a home printer, your printer must support Google Cloud Print – see the Print from Chrome page to learn more about it, and how to connect your Chromebook to your printer if possible.