SCS working to pass out digital devices over the weekend after distribution canceled on Friday

Updated: Aug. 27, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Inclement weather has canceled Shelby County Schools’ digital device distribution on Friday, but organizers still plan to have all 95,000 devices handed out by the first day of school on Monday.

For those who were scheduled to pick up devices on Friday, Shelby County Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said in a tweet the district is working to create make-up days this weekend.

“We should be done very soon [handing out devices],” SCS Chief Information Officer Lakshimi Visvanathan said. “All the devices have arrived.”

As of Thursday morning, nearly 68,000 devices have been handed out to SCS families within a matter of weeks.

“[Wednesday] was a very busy day,” Visvanathan said. “We gave close to 6,200 devices to the students.”

“It’s been so easy,” SCS parent April Huffines said.

But beyond getting a device, Visvanathan said students need to get familiar with it ahead of the first day of virtual classes on Monday.

“The important thing is please turn on the devices,” she said.

“I think it’s going to be good. It’s going to be different and have strange challenges we’ve never had before,” Huffines said.

SCS has hosted two power up hours over the last week to see how the network can handle so many devices. Visvanathan said no major issues popped up, and she’s confident the network can handle all the devices come Monday.

While powering up, you should also connect the device to the internet. For some that will be through one of the 24,000 hot spots SCS has made available.

“There was an initial survey criteria we had economically disadvantaged students and a priority group so we’re going by that priority group and distributing hot spots, but we’re also continuing to survey parents,” Visvanathan said.

SCS said it does have additional hot spots and it’s working to make accommodations for families who may have previously been ineligible.

To try to get a hot spot from SCS, you can fill out this form and find more affordable internet options here.

SCS is concerned about the thousands of households who have have their utilities cut by MLGW after a payment moratorium ended this week. It has created an absence code if students cannot connect to the internet because of cut off services.

This week the City of Memphis donated $3.5 million in CARES funding to MIFA to help those with overdue bills. The city said it hopes to have information on applying for some of those funds out next week.

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