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i am ousd
August 5, 2020
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Preston Thomas
Dear Oakland Community,
This week, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) launched the most ambitious  technology distribution in our history with the goal of eliminating the digital divide. Not only is the scope of the distribution remarkable, but also the timing and circumstances are incredibly complex.

I am writing with some important updates about how OUSD will be supporting our families with the technology they need to access distance learning. This has been a tremendous team effort as we redesign our system to support student learning outside brick and mortar school buildings. We are so excited that in a few days, our teachers will reconnect with our students and engage in distance learning in a new way.

As OUSD opens our virtual doors next Monday, we will be able to provide computers and internet access to families who need them to participate in distance learning. 
We will be providing computers and internet access in TWO phases. 
Phase 1 - OUSD loans out Chromebooks and provides Hotspots that will provide internet access to families: To begin school, OUSD will loan devices and support internet connection to all students who need it.
  • Schools will distribute loaned computers at registration/tech distribution events and other times as announced by schools. Chromebooks and hotspots will be checked out to families. Some schools have already started this process. Please look for communications from your site, or reach out to your school leader.
  • Families who need support, please complete the #OaklandUndivided Tech Check Survey. Your school site will help families fill out the survey at registration/tech distribution events. This survey will give us a full picture of student and home tech needs across the city AND determine eligibility for a #OaklandUndivided home computer. In the first two days of the survey going live, over 2600 students have already completed the survey
Phase 2 -  #OaklandUndivided replaces loaned computers:  Starting at the end of August, #OaklandUndivided will provide technology to students with demonstrated need. For those families, OUSD will then collect the loaner computers provided at the beginning of the school year and replace them with a student-owned #OaklandUndivided computers. To determine need, all families will need to take the #OaklandUndivided Tech Check Survey. The #OaklandUndivided campaign seeks to ensure that every Oakland public school student in need has a computer, internet connection, and technology support in their home for this school year and beyond. More information can be found here.
Gearing up for distribution.
We have been busy preparing for this.
The coordination of this distribution is going to require us all to support this effort and so many in OUSD have worked long hours to make it happen.

We started early. When OUSD moved into Distance Learning in March, OUSD district office and school sites mobilized to purchase over 11,000 Chromebooks. This was quickly followed by the OaklandUndivided Campaign which added an additional 17,000 computers and 10,000 T-Mobile hotspots for OUSD ahead of the global rush and backlog. This was only possible because of the partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Oakland Public Education Fund, Tech Exchange,  and rapid philanthropic support. Some of the hotspots have already started to arrive at school sites on Monday. 

Making sure everybody has a computer.  Students will have access to computers and internet at the start of school through OUSD checking out loaner devices. To support this, we developed a central tracking system to identify student needs and move computers to where they are needed and will truly map out the digital divide in Oakland.
Thank you Oakland!  
Many families have reached out to help and asked if their own personal computers will work, or have offered to buy their own computers to help ensure that every student has a device. We appreciate your support in helping ensure we can get all families in Oakland connected.  Click here to see if your computer meets our minimum requirements. Click here to donate a computer or other support.
OUSD’s Analysis of Household Hotspot Coverage for Families Qualifying for Free/Reduced Lunch
Making sure everybody is connected:  School sites will distribute 8,000 hotspots during registration/tech distribution events this week and next. Additionally, as more of the T-Mobile Hotspots arrive from #OaklandUndivided, we will start distributing those as well.  Our teachers, students and families piloted  the T-mobile hotspots and OUSD did its own analysis of coverage based on every OUSD student’s home address.  As a result of that testing, we found that most of our families will have high quality service at home.  For families with limited coverage in their neighborhood, we are connecting those families with other partners that can provide more stable service.  For example,  Comcast Internet Essentials will be providing cable service  for our low income families. 
Supporting teachers with technology.
Many teachers have requested computers to support their teaching. We are looking into additional options and will keep you updated. Please note that there is lead time required to purchase new devices. In the meantime, teachers with the oldest Chromebooks that experience issues with Zoom and other tools are encouraged to contact the HelpDesk regarding a replacement. This can be done by opening a ticket, emailing, or calling 510-879-8178 to leave a voicemail.
Thanks to the OUSD team, partner organizations, and philanthropic supporters.
This has been a tremendous amount of work. We would like to thank the following:
  • Philanthropic partners:  All donors to the #OaklandUndivided campaign. There are too many to name here, but you can find a full list here
  • Partner organizations:  City of Oakland Mayor’s Office, Tech Exchange, Oakland Public Education Fund, Oakland Promise for their ongoing support and leadership
  • Team OUSD: Principals and Distance Learning Leads (teachers, administrators, and classified staff) that are collaborating with the district office to make sure that every student is connected with devices. A special appreciation to Susan Beltz, Colleen Calvano, Kyleigh Nevis, Juan Du, Susan Radke, Guillermo Topete, Jr, Taslim Shaikh, the Aeries team, our site technicians, and all our truck drivers who have worked tirelessly to build the infrastructure to make all of this possible.
We are doing and will continue to do our best to work with each and every family in the city to ensure that students have the tools for distance learning and to close the digital divide. We look forward to serving you.
Please share your thoughts on this message
In Partnership,
Preston Thomas
Chief Systems and Services Officer
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