The Take-Home Policy is an important part of your device loaner program that defines the fiscal liabilities and responsibilities related to the device. Avoid repeating policies that are covered in the AUP or Data Privacy Policies in order to steer clear of creating accidental conflicts in language because of differing word choice.
If your school district already has an established 1:1 program, and you are expanding your loaner program to support families due to quarantine efforts, consider reviewing the policy in light of the emergency nature of the loaner program. For districts new to device loaner programs, you should develop a policy.
While developing or reviewing your Take-Home Policy, consider:
- From a fiscal liability perspective, what will families be responsible for? It’s not uncommon for school districts to require that families assume some level of responsibility for the device, but not necessarily all. For example, many districts hold a family responsible for costs associated with the repair or replacement of a device due to gross negligence or vandalism but will hold them harmless in instances of theft or accidental damage. We recommend that school districts make their stance on the line between gross negligence and accidents clear. For example, does an accidental liquid spill count as an accident or gross negligence?
- Insurance should also be explicitly covered. School districts will first need to decide if they will purchase insurance. If so, will the cost of the insurance be passed to the family or will the school district’s budget cover the cost? Regardless of who pays, school districts should provide clear documentation to families of what is and what is not covered by the insurance plan. Some districts do not purchase nor require insurance, but they do point to an insurer that offers an optional family purchased plan.
- Families are sometimes charged fees as part of a loaner program. These fees are often intended to fund an account from which the school district can cover costs associated with repairs and replacements not otherwise covered by insurance or warranty. School districts must make sure that the use of those funds is communicated clearly to families and be very careful to avoid terms like “insurance” or “self-insurance” because a fee-based program is not insurance. In most states, the word insurance has a legal meaning, and providing insurance protection is a regulated industry by a government agency with strict guidelines for dealing with premiums and claims. With any up-front costs for insurance or fees, school districts should consult with their legal counsel or state department of education to determine if mandatory fees or insurance premiums are considered “pay-to-play” fees, which are not legal in many states.
- Since the Take-Home Policy defines fiscal liability for the device that could lead to financial implications for a family, the policy should be approved by the school board using its standard process for reviewing and approving school district policy.
- Whether your school district is revising an existing policy or developing a new one, consider requesting the school board assign one of its members to be part of the review team. That member, at minimum, can review language and act as a sounding board while keeping the rest of the board apprised of progress so that when the policy is ready for school board review and approval, the process is more straightforward.
- School districts should require families to immediately report to the district and law enforcement if they believe a device is clearly missing and not merely lost somewhere in the household. Your asset management system should be able to tell you if the device has been active and on a network recently. If the most recent connection fits the timeline, school districts can provide that information to law enforcement who can work with ISPs to geolocate that IP address to attempt to recover the device.
- Establish clear technical support processes, especially when devices are loaned to students to support learning during a shelter-in-place order and your general technical support may not suffice.
- Include care and use guidelines for home use. Your recommendations should support practices that protect the device as well as help parents manage the device and their child. For example, school districts should consider advising families to:
- Have students use the device only on flat work surfaces like a kitchen table or desk, and never on the student’s lap, the floor, or while laying down on a bed or sofa to prevent accidental damage.
- Have students use the device in public spaces in the home, and never in the student’s bedroom with the door closed. This helps establish that parents can more easily monitor usage.
- Never have food or drinks near the device to avoid catastrophic liquid spill damage.
- Never place a device on a flat horizontal surface where people sit or stand like the floor or a chair to prevent accidental damage.
- Charge the device while it rests on a table or other safe flat surface, but not in its carrying case. Many carrying cases have padding for protection, but this acts like a blanket and can cause devices to overheat while charging.
Take-Home Policies often include a lot of other related support resources that are not policy per se, but helpful information to have including digital citizenship resources, digital parenting advice, common login pages for school platforms, cleaning instructions, and other details about proper care and use of the device.
Laptop Take Home Presentation, Policy, and Sign Off Form
Maine School Administrative District 72, Fryeburg, ME
If your school district has an existing Take-Home Policy, review whether or not it needs updating for a quarantine scenario and make appropriate changes if needed. If you make changes, the revised policy will need to be reviewed and approved by your school board.
If your school district is new to device loaner programs, develop a Take-Home Policy, and submit it to your school board for approval.