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‘We can’t do everything over the phone’: Carroll County Public Schools offering more drive-up tech support

Carroll County Public Schools’ first seven drive-up tech service sessions, where students can bring their school-issued laptops for in-person repairs, have shown there is a need for support and two more have been scheduled.

The next services are set for Saturday, Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Manchester Valley and Century high schools, and then for Dec. 10 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the same locations.

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Those who arrive for drive-up tech support must stay in their car while a staff member takes the device, wear masks while interacting with staff and possibly be directed to a parking lot to wait for repairs to finish.

Gary Davis, CCPS chief information officer, said the first drive-up tech support session occurred Oct. 17 at the central office as a pilot. It since has expanded to other schools like Century, Francis Scott Key and Manchester Valley high schools. The number of people bringing in laptops has ranged from 19 to 52. He said on average they see about 30 people.

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“The challenge is, we never supported students and families ever before,” he said, noting that devices weren’t assigned to students to take home before the pandemic, only to staff.

Since the pandemic, the school system created an email address for families to contact if they needed technology help. And since kids were not initially coming to the school buildings, tech support was done over the phone.

“We can’t do everything over the phone,” Davis said.

In addition to the drive-ups, an online form was created that provides tips, suggestions and links that can “hopefully answer some of the questions,” Davis said. It launched on Monday.

There hasn’t been a line of cars for the drive-up tech support, Davis said, but there has always been a steady stream of people. He said he thinks they appreciate it and CCPS would only stop holding drive-up sessions if people no longer showed.

The reasons for needing repairs varies, he said. Sometimes people need reinstalling of programs or systems. Others have cracked monitors. Some have trouble with software. Davis said the issues can have easy fixes or they are better solved by switching out to a new laptop.

The chief information officer said they cannot fix everything. Some issues, like the ones involving assignments and submissions, are better suited for the classroom teacher.

Davis said he is not sure when the next drive-up tech support will be after Dec. 10, but that another might be held in December.

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