Now that schools won’t reopen this school year, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is moving forward with a plan to send home thousands of Chromebooks to families marooned at home due to the new coronavirus.

How many of these school-purchased laptops will head home to how many students and how quickly is still being determined.

The school system, the state’s second largest traditional school district, is currently on spring break and is returning Monday. The Chromebook rollout will occur in the days and weeks after that. The last day of school is May 21.

Superintendent Warren Drake, leader of the state’s second largest traditional school district, announced the plan Tuesday afternoon in an email to school system administrators. He thanked them for the work they’ve done since school buildings closed March 13 to shift from face-to-face instruction to at-home learning with print packets and online resources.

“Now, I am going to ask you to keep the learning opportunities going for your children and think out of the box when doing so,” Drake wrote.

Describing it as “a bold plan,” Drake said it will fall short of reaching all children in need but “we must engage every learning tool we have at this time.”

“Principals, you and your teachers are the closest to your children so I am going to put it into your hands to continue to provide robust learning opportunities for your students,” Drake said.

East Baton Rouge Parish is a 1-to-1 district, meaning it has laptops for all students in grades five to 12 — almost 34,000 of them, according to a recent state survey. With the exception of a couple of schools, these computing devices stay at school all year, never going home. Until now.

In an interview, Drake said principals have already offered feedback and concerns that his staff is working through. He said he’s also working with outside groups to bring more home internet to families that don’t currently have the internet. And he said teachers will need more training in how to teach from home.

“It’s going to be very creative and different,” Drake said. “We’ve got to be able to do things that we have not done before.”


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.