What you need to know about your student's school tablet

What you need to know about your student's school tablet

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Technology can help you do amazing things but it can be scary, especially for parents.  With iPads and computer tablets becoming an education staple, many parents worry about their child's internet safety while at school.

Rules for tablet use in classrooms include: no social media, no individual download of apps, even restricted access to the camera if the school chooses.  The teacher can only have students download applications for class if approved by the school's administration.  Schools are going to great lengths to ensure these gadgets are used for education only.

Ashley Gasperson is the digital communications coordinator for Horry County Schools.  She said the tablets give teachers an advantage and keep students more equal in how they learn. But, if you still have concerns, the district can help you.

"I think the fear that parents have is the fear of not knowing and not being able to control what's happening at school.  So if they share those concerns with their buildings' administrators, then they can work with parents to ease those concerns and figure out a solution that works best for their student," Gasperson said.

She said the students don't use the tablets continuously throughout the day.  So far the results over the last four years of using the tablets show they're great aids to your child's education, Gasperson said.

However, the tablets do come with responsibilities for Horry County School parents. "$600 for four years, per student," Gasperson said each tablet costs.  However, Conway High School Principal Lee James said it's really not that much when you think about it.  That's $150 a year for four years, and less than $1 a day per student.

But, the damage control fees have added up for the district.  WMBF News asked about those totals, but received no response as of yet.

Each family of a fifth-grader and up is responsible for a $25 insurance fee per child.  This is because fifth through twelfth grades have computer tablets for each student.  Fifth through eighth graders receive an iPad; high school kids receive a Dell Venue.

Third and fourth grades are receiving their first iPads this year.  However, third and fourth grade parents do not have a $25 insurance fee because there is a two-students-for-every-iPad ratio, and students can't bring them home.

A $25 fee for fifth grade parents to twelfth grade parents will show up on your child's account online if you didn't pay it at registration. The good news is the district provides parents with a payment plan. The bad news is if you don't pay that insurance fee before your child receives their tablet and they break it, you're responsible for at least $100.

School officials say the tablet learning benefits are worth the cost. "If I didn't have the ability with the technology than there would be a lot of things I wouldn't have been able to do.  I see students every single say who make great gains, who achieve things they may not have been able to achieve without the assistance of the technology, and it just really levels the playing field for everybody," Gasperson said.

If the tablet is damaged, the family is responsible to pay an additional $25 to fix it the first time.  If it's damaged a second time, the cost to fix it is $50.  If it's broken a third time, the family is responsible for the cost to fix.

If a student loses a charger or breaks a tablet case, the family can opt to buy those items through the school without using the "first strike," or first $25 dollar fee.

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