The Albany Diocesan School Board, on behalf of the 21 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Albany, was awarded a $500,000 grant for the 2021-22 school year from The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to enhance educational technology for low- to moderate-income families who have children attending Albany diocesan schools.

The pandemic has forced educators to redefine the concepts of teaching and learning in many ways. Online platforms, remote learning and online collaboration were used sparingly in the pre-pandemic K-12 educational landscape. These concepts and tools are now a part of everyday learning in the Diocese of Albany’s Catholic schools. While these are all positive developments that will likely continue in the post-pandemic world, there is one unfortunate byproduct. These shifts come with a heavy reliance on students having accessibility to devices and internet access, highlighting a gap between those with economically diverse backgrounds.

“Students today need to be equipped with appropriate hardware, such as iPads and Chromebooks, and also have reliable internet access at home in order to stay current with assignments and classwork,” said Superintendent of Schools Giovanni Virgiglio said. “There should be equal opportunity and a level playing field for all students and this grant will enable us to accomplish that goal.”

After a thorough analysis of incoming students for the 2021-22 school year, the Catholic School Office has determined that hundreds of students in seven counties will benefit from the generosity of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

The Foundation’s grant will be used to furnish eligible students with educational hardware and portable internet access hotspots so that they can better handle the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Students will be able to use these technologies to improve their studies and enhance their own creativity as they work through their school projects.

In order to furnish the students with relevant equipment, each school was surveyed about its use of technology and its current technology needs. “Many schools requested both tablets and some form of Chromebook,” said Nathan Peters, Technology Grant administrator. “We noticed that each school’s transition from tablet to laptop was different, so to ease this transition we selected 2-in-1 laptops for their additional tablet configuration. By doing so, we are working to leverage technology to the benefit of our students.”

Students in younger grades are due to be outfitted with iPads of the latest generation. This meshes well with the interactive and touch-based instruction that is common with these devices and most familiar to younger students.

All devices and hardware will be closely monitored by the individual school, in consultation with Peters. Students will be required to adhere to strict written diocesan internet usage policies and maintain proper usage of all equipment provided through the grant.

 

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