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Ritenour Expands Technology to Ensure Every K-12 Student has Computer Device

Hot spots on Ritenour buses The Ritenour School District has expanded its technology to ensure that all of its K-12 students will have a computer device at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, it is increasing WiFi access for students who do not have access to the internet in their homes.

Since the 2016-2017 school year, Ritenour High School has been a 1:1 school with the rollout of Chromebooks for all RHS students to use both at home and in school. Starting this August, all K-12 students will have the ability to use district-issued devices to complete schoolwork both at home and in school. St. Louis County Library provided approximately 100 WiFi Hotspots to RHS students throughout the last school year to RHS students who did not have access to the internet at home. The library provided more Hotspots to middle school students during the pandemic closure this spring.

Over the last several years, the district has been steadily expanding the number of devices in all schools and increasing infrastructure to support the devices in recent years, especially at Hoech and Ritenour middle schools, but still did not meet 1:1 needs. Its long-term goal was to make the district 1:1. 

The COVID-19 pandemic that led to the spring 2020 district closure and distance learning for all students added to the urgency of creating equity with technology for all Ritenour students, said Dr. Fred Harlan, director of technology. 

“Ritenour High School  already was on the schedule to receive 2,000 new Chromebooks for the upcoming school year, with the current stock being re-imaged and prepared this summer for middle and elementary students,” said Fred Harlan, director of technology. “Thanks to funding from the CARES Act, we were able to purchase additional Chromebooks and tablets to fill the gaps at the elementary level.”

In addition to ensuring that all K-12 students have devices that they can use at home and in school, Ritenour is increasing wireless access for students who do not have it in their homes. The Ritenour Pride & Promise Foundation provided $20,000 to equip 12 Ritenour buses with WiFi that will be used as Hotspots. Filters are in place to protect students.

The buses are parked this summer at all Ritenour school campuses, providing students WiFi access when they are within 150 feet of the buses. The technology department is exploring the best locations for the buses to give students access during the school year so students can easily tap into the bus WiFi to participate in online learning and complete assignments if they cannot access it from home. 

Earlier this summer, the district applied for an EmpowerED 2.0 discount through Sprint/T Mobile and received 20 additional hotspots. These have been set up to be used by Ritenour families, and will be distributed by building principals.

Students will receive devices at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. More information about the device rollouts will be shared with families, including training sessions for families and students, closer to the first day of school, which is Monday, Aug. 24.