SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Since the COVID-19 pandemic began technology has played a major part in allowing students to continue learning while also staying safe.

Now Springfield Public Schools is taking steps to scale back technology use in the classroom. With students once again learning in-person full-time, district officials said it was time to recalibrate technology usage. Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced during Tuesday’s school board meeting that the district will take steps to lower the usage of district-issued devices among students.

New SPS board member Kelly Byrne and vice president Maryam Mohammadkhani raised questions about the appropriate level of technology usage in the classrooms. A review will examine how well the district is able to safeguard students and what role technology will play in academic achievement.

New SPS technology rules

Lathan announced starting this summer elementary students will not be allowed to take home Google Chromebooks unless they are enrolled in the summer program Explore.

“Prior to this year all devices went home during the summertime and that change will be made immediately,” said Lathan.

Another question that was brought up to Lathan was what times students will have access to their Chromebook. Currently, the district turns off access to elementary devices from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The district is looking to expand that timeframe to apply to middle school students too.

This fall, preschool through fifth-grade students will be able to access a device while they are at school but will not be allowed to take them home daily.

“Parents will have the option to check out a device, and if they need to, a hotspot,” said Lathan.

What’s next?

The district is reviewing the controls it has in place to block certain sites on students’ devices as well. Teachers will participate in a technology integration course this August. The training will help make sure technology in the classroom is supporting instruction.

“There are some other ways to protect students so that when they have that device for that particular time, they are on the site that they’re supposed to be on,” said Lathan.

Lathan said the district would also be studying whether Chromebooks are the best devices for students.

Mohammadkhani stated that the district is committed to moving away from over-reliance on technology and she hopes the result will bring a better balance between digital and print in classrooms.