Flushing Community Schools provides Chromebooks for students

FLUSHING — With in-person classes canceled for the rest of the school year, Flushing Community Schools is providing Chromebooks for its students to help them stay engaged with online learning.

Recently, the Flushing Board of Education approved the purchase of 577 Chromebooks, 577 Google licenses and 11 storage charging carts. Around 180 of the new Chromebooks will be distributed to teaching staffs throughout the district, while the remaining devices will go to students.

Andrew Schmidt, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction at FCS, said that all device purchases have been provided for by federal dollars and will not be coming from the district’s general fund or curriculum dollars.

“When schools halted, there was an opportunity to utilize some of the federal funds we receive every year to purchase additional technology,” he said. “We knew that would benefit our district immediately.”

Each of the district’s four elementary schools will be getting 32 new Chromebooks, plus an additional 32 devices from a different grant source. Flushing Middle School will receive 70 devices, Flushing High School will get 145 devices and the Early Childhood Center (ECC) will get 54 devices.

Schmidt said that FCS has distributed approximately 1,000 Chromebook devices to students since schools shut down in mid- March.

Along with providing Chromebooks, FCS has designed online lesson plans to keep students on track with studies and to prepare them for their next grade level. Flushing teachers have been supporting students by providing videos, answering questions and holding virtual classes through Zoom and Google Classroom.

Schmidt said that elementary students have also received instructional packets to take home. As part of that packet, parents receive an academic calendar that helps manage the work that their kids are assigned each day.

“The elementary learning plan is mostly packet-driven, with online support,” he said. “The middle school level shifts much more to digital instruction, and the high school plan is primarily through digital means. Our goal has been to provide as much material and instruction as we can now through the end of the school year.”

While online learning has presented challenges for some students, such as internet connectivity issues and a lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers, Schmidt said that the district’s instructors are doing their best to fill instructional gaps. In the meantime, he’s encouraging students to be patient with the process.

“No matter what the student’s situation is, we really are encouraging them to do the work to the best of their ability,” he said. “Don’t let being at home deter you. Set a schedule for yourself, commit to that schedule and be motivated to get the work completed.”

For more information on the district’s online learning plans, visit flushingschools.org.