Determining the root of an issue (hardware, software, network, or user error) is fundamental to the troubleshooting process. Even new devices experience hardware issues, so school districts need to plan accordingly.

You can begin by establishing your metric for success. While it may take time for a device to be repaired, school districts can maintain a pool of service spare devices that users can utilize temporarily while their device is being fixed. The speed of your repair process, in combination with the frequency of hardware failures, will help you determine the number of service spares you need in rotation.


  • Quarantine scenarios demand that schools develop additional precautions to protect both technicians and end-users from potential health issues due to the exchange of equipment. These safety precautions could lengthen the repair cycle, particularly if your school district employs an external repair provider since this will increase the number of hands-offs for a device.
  • During COVID-19, school districts are providing food through their food services divisions, often with aid from the transportation department. These operations have developed routines to maintain health and safety precautions. Consider whether device exchanges for repairs can be incorporated into these processes since they are already in effect and familiar to families.
  • School districts that utilize external repair providers should establish contractual agreements with Service Level Agreements for repair turnaround times. By doing so, school districts can better manage the balance of service spares and repairs to ensure that users have working devices.
  • School districts that purchase commercial insurance should work with their provider to determine how repairs covered by the insurance plan will be carried out. If the insurer requires the use of a different repair provider, school districts should determine whether or not that provider can maintain the SLA stipulations that you require of your preferred provider and adjust insurance plans or repair providers accordingly.
  • School districts should ensure they provide guidance to end-users to make sure they do not overzealously disinfect devices using abrasive cloths or disinfectant sprays that could harm screens, casings, or worse create a liquid spill incident.
  • As service spares are issued to users, and loaner devices are accepted for repairs, ensure that records are maintained to document who has custody of each device and when the exchange took place.
  • Details of each repair, including which components are replaced, should be documented in your help desk system. 
  • If possible, when major component parts like screens, logic boards, or batteries are replaced during repairs, school districts should record the serial numbers of the new parts. While uncommon, knowing the serial number of major components has aided programs by saving enormous amounts of time during a manufacturer’s battery recalls. You may need to include provisions in your external repair provider SLA to ensure that you receive the necessary data in an easily importable format.
  • If your loaner device inventory is made up of devices harvested from mobile carts and classroom sets to support an ERT scenario, and you do not have any inventory remaining to act as service spares, school districts should consider purchasing additional devices to facilitate the support process. Depending on the available budget, consider whether buying certified refurbished devices makes sense.


School districts should plan for replacing some of their devices. Catastrophic damage from liquids or drops will occur, and theft and loss do occur. If possible, your replacement devices should be the same model and configuration as your loaner devices. This will help ensure compatibility and supportability. If you repair your devices internally, having the same devices makes it easier to stock parts and know how to do repairs efficiently.


  • When procuring device loaners, school districts should consider purchasing the replacement devices at the same time.
  • School districts could use the replacement devices as service spares until they are needed as replacements. As replacements are issued to users and removed from your service spare pool, school districts should purchase another device to ensure that the service spare pool inventory is maintained in order for the pool to serve its purpose effectively. School districts that employ this strategy may wish to increase the size of its service spare pool to accommodate the time it takes to replenish the pool.
  • If your school district purchases insurance for the devices, ensure that replacements provided by the insurance plan fit into your process. For example, if your devices have an extended warranty, will the replacement be the exact same model, and will you be able to transfer the warranty to the replacement device?


1 | Develop, communicate, and implement device repair/exchange programs that ensure health and safety precautions are maintained by and for all, and that meet your definition of success.

2 | Ensure that all data and information are documented to facilitate management, trend analysis, and fiscal control.

3 | Prepare for replacing lost, stolen, or catastrophically damaged devices.