The San Francisco Unified School District is prepared to help students with technology as distance learning is underway. (Courtesy photo)

Tech tips for families

SFUSD is assisting youngsters as they study online from home

At the San Francisco Unified School District, each new school year begins with welcoming students and families, and sharing expectations for the coming year. There’s a lot of joy — dance parties, reunions with friends and lots of laughter.

Even as we begin the year from a distance, I know that all of these things are still happening in our schools. They’re just happening with the help of devices like computers, phones and the internet.

As all of our schools engage in distance learning this fall to protect against the spread of COVID-19, you and your child may be encountering new technology and programs. And you may have questions. But rest assured — at SFUSD, we’re here to help!

Technology tools

Since closing school buildings in March, SFUSD has been lending laptops and internet hotspots to students to support their learning from home. If you have an SFUSD student who needs to borrow technology, please fill out the Fall 2020 Technology Request Form. Your school will contact you to share opportunities for you to receive needed technology.

Once you’re set up with a computer, check out the SFUSD Digital Backpack, which is a collection of tools that have been vetted for safety and privacy. Backpacks are personalized for each student based on their school and grade.

Tech support for the SFUSD community

Has technology got you stuck? We’ve all been there. Fortunately, the SFUSD Department of Technology has created video tutorials to help you get started with using Chromebooks, Zoom, Seesaw and Kids A-Z. The videos are available in multiple languages as well.

You can also view these printable handouts for families, which include information on getting started with technology and home learning activities for different grade levels.

Still stuck? Not to worry! Free 1:1 technology support is available for students, their guardians and, of course, SFUSD staff.

Students and families can call or email the Student and Family Resource Link, a single point of contact for help with distance learning related questions.

For those who are seeking a full 30-minute consultation, the San Francisco Education Fund has recruited tech volunteers to provide personal phone and video support on basic questions about Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom, and Seesaw. Tech appointments are available in multiple languages.

Online behavior expectations

Just as we have expectations for how students behave in schools, there are ways we expect students to behave virtually as well (and these are good refreshers for people of all ages).

Be respectful, responsible, and safe. The rules from your school apply to your online environments as well. Keep your language respectful, compliment others for positive contributions, and be safe with your information.

Consider your digital footprint

Anything recorded or posted online is out there for anyone to find and use, positively or negatively. Make sure what you put out there shows you in a positive light.

Don’t share your personal or private information. Keep personal information off the internet that others can use like your full name, birthdate, address and phone number. Never share your username or password.

Write and read postings carefully to avoid unnecessary confusion. Remember that your peers cannot see your body language or hear your tone of voice, so you need to keep your language direct and respectful.

Ask for help if you get lost- If you are having a hard time following what’s being talked about or don’t understand a part of the conversation, please let others know so they can help you get back on track.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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