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Papillion-La Vista plans Aug. 11 start but buys 4,820 laptops just in case

Papillion-La Vista plans Aug. 11 start but buys 4,820 laptops just in case


Parents and students in the Papillion-La Vista Community Schools learned more Monday about their district’s plans for reopening school in the fall.

District officials said they plan to start school as scheduled with kids and teachers in classrooms.

“Right now, our expectation is Aug. 11, all kids, all grade levels, every day,” Superintendent Andy Rikli said.

But officials also took action to prepare for possible closures because of COVID-19.

School board members approved $1.5 million in technology spending Monday, including the purchase of 4,820 Chromebook laptop computers that could be used if health conditions require buildings to close.

One question still to be decided is whether masks would be required for the district’s students and staff.

Rikli said the district faces a “conundrum.” Whatever is decided, some parents won’t be happy, he said.

He said there’s no doubt health experts have concluded that masks prevent disease spread.

“However, we also know that it touches on deeply personal choices that parents and families may have,” Rikli said. “I don’t believe we are at a point in a district where we are going to say everyone — students, staff and everyone — must wear masks, in spite of what the science says.”

He said district officials will continue to talk with health officials and will try to be flexible while safeguarding the well-being of students and staff.

The laptop computers are for high school students.

School board members also approved buying 1,300 iPads for elementary schools to replace aging equipment and increase the number available.

The district is buying the computers with the help of a $375,000 Facebook grant.

Last school year, the district did not have a one-to-one ratio of portable computers to students. When the pandemic triggered school closings in March, district officials had to scramble to determine if every student had a device with access to the Internet.

The purchase gives the district enough computers to implement a one-to-one policy at the district’s two high schools, Papillion-La Vista and Papillion-La Vista South.

District spokeswoman Annette Eyman said the district hasn’t decided whether to adopt such a policy allowing students to take those computers home for homework and online research.

Other metro area districts have purchased portable computers to prepare for potential distance learning next school year.

The Omaha Public Schools board approved the purchase of about 54,400 iPads for all OPS students, a $27.6 million purchase. That cost includes the iPads, which have cellular data capability, and cases.

The Ralston Public Schools has purchased Chromebook laptops for students in grades 7 through 12. The devices cost about $400 apiece.

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Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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