Social media platform Facebook has helped make learning online easier for both Papillion La Vista Community Schools and Springfield Platteview Community Schools.

Heidi Zierott, director of learning for SPCS, said Facebook gave the district a grant of around $280,000 to purchase new technology for students and teachers.

Zierott said Facebook reached out to SPCS asking how it could help during this time of virtual learning.

“The first thing was just trying to figure out how to get hotspots or internet capabilities to families who aren’t able to have that, and then it just kind of stemmed from there,” Zierott said.

SPCS will use the grant money to purchase several different types of technology, including laptops for juniors and seniors, charging stations for iPads and adjustable iPad stands.

“It helped us in the short term, but then also it helped having some conversations about long term planning as well,” Zierott said.

She said SPCS is one to one with iPads, meaning every student in the district is equipped with their own iPad, but a majority of students at the junior and senior level take dual credit courses which would be easier to complete with laptops rather than iPads.

Zierott said the support from tech companies like Facebook and Google has been overwhelming “in the best way possible.”

“They have given us lots of opportunities that we were hoping and planning for, but we were able to do it so much quicker with their commitment to our district,” Zierott said.

Annette Eyman, communications director for PLCS, said the partnership with Facebook has been amazing.

“They do tons of things to support technology and computers and just education in general, so we’re so thankful to have them in our community,” Eyman said.

Facebook gave PLCS a grant worth $375,000, which Eyman said will go toward purchasing 1,500 Chromebooks for high school students in the district.

Some of the Chromebooks will be equipped with SIM cards to provide internet access for students in need.

“We’re not going to be one to one at our high schools, but it helps us move to that direction,” Eyman said.

The devices will be distributed depending on what learning looks like in the fall, Eyman said, and be based on student need.

Matt Sexton, Facebook’s community development regional manager, said in a statement the social media company is thankful to assist both PLCS and SPCS in creating more resiliency in the face of challenges resulting from the coronavirus.

“By equipping more than 1,700 students with updated one to one technology and connectivity, we are ensuring that students know learning can continue wherever they are — at home or at school,” Sexton said.

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