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Assistance to School Districts Hit by Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey
Written by Lori Gracey

Schools across the state have been hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Learn how you can help them get back to learning as quickly as possible.

Hurricane Harvey has devastated many parts of Texas, causing untold billions in property damage and too many lost lives. School districts were not spared the destruction. Once the storm has passed, many schools will be searching for help to get students back in the classroom as quickly as possible. Each of us can help with this noble and important purpose.

If You’re in Need

TCEA encourages each educator, librarian, CTO, and administrator hit hard by the hurricane to work together to create projects in Donors Choose to replace critical learning resources. Add the hashtag #TCEA to each project and we will help to promote the need using our vast array of members, exhibitors, sponsors, partners, and contacts. (For hints on getting your project funded, check out this blog.)

By the way, for individuals who had storm damage, you need to file your claim by September 1. As this article shows, a new law (House Bill 1774) takes effect then that impacts the rights and remedies available to property owners under the Texas Insurance Code. So be sure you notify your insurance agent by the end of August so that your claim falls under the current law.

If You Were Not Hurt by Hurricane Harvey

Now is the time for those of us fortunate enough to sustain little or no damage from the storm to help those in need. Find a project with the #TCEA hashtag and contribute what you can to help that educator. Whether it’s a little or a lot, each donation will tell those in pain that they are cared for and that tomorrow will be a better day.

Assistance to Districts from Microsoft

In an email sent to TCEA today from Doug Thompson, Microsoft Account Technology Strategist for US Education, we once again see that humanity is inherently good and willing to help each other. Microsoft is offering assistance to school districts hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, as you can see in the email below.

Microsoft and your Microsoft Account Team are at the ready to assist your district and institution with the failover and/or recovery of mission critical applications and data into Microsoft Azure due to outages or anticipated outages caused by Hurricane Harvey. Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s IaaS and PaaS cloud offering support for both Windows- and Linux-based workloads running on physical servers, and in both Hyper-V and VMWare virtual environments.  Whether you own Azure today or not, if you need assistance with failing over mission critical systems and data into Azure, please respond to Doug Thompson with the following information to allow Microsoft timely follow-up with the right resources:

  1. District / Institution Name
  2. Primary contact for IT systems disaster recovery
    1. Name
    2. E-mail
    3. Phone
  3. Current status of data center(s) – up, down, flooded, no power, accessible or not
  4. Current status of applications – up, down
  5. Backup software and backup medium (tape, disks, 3rd-party off-site)
  6. Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery software in place today
  7. Timeline for availability of applications – now, end of week, etc.
  8. Availability for a call with Microsoft to triage need and go-forward plan

If you are a current user of Azure or new to Azure and would like to understand how mission critical workloads can be replicated to Azure for failover using Azure Site Recovery, documentation on the service is available here including capacity and configuration planning tools to help with expediting the build out of the failover environment in Azure:

Free Digital Books from myON

myON, a long-time supporter of TCEA, is offering their entire collection of more than 10,000 digital books free to anyone in Texas for a limited time. You can read more about this amazing opportunity here.

Assistance to Districts from Amazon Web Services

Besides donating funds to the relief efforts, Amazon is also offering help for the technical side of school districts. They have authorized to build  individual relief plans with schools and give credits to aid in the recovery. These credits are available for all Amazon Web Services products based on your unique need. They will work across their Professional Services, Solutions Architects, and other technical teams to provide needed assistance at the appropriate time.

If you are or know a school IT department that is in need of any support, please email K12HarveyRelief@amazon.com with your school or district’s name, a primary contact name, and contact information (mobile and email). You can also forward this message to other impacted schools. If you are in the position to initiate your disaster recovery plans or need to migrate data currently, you may find this website of value.

Assistance to Districts from Digital Wish with Wireless Internet Hotspots

Digital Wish has donations of wireless internet hotspots for educators, which can be used to get internet access in their classroom, on the road, at home, or anywhere they are working.

The donated hotspots are paired with Mobile Beacon’s 4G LTE Internet service at the discounted education rate of $10/month.  Educators get unlimited, high-speed 4G LTE mobile broadband service on the donated high quality, 10-hour battery life hotspot. With over 1,000 already donated, the cost savings to schools and educators is substantial.

The internet service provider, Mobile Beacon, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission of bringing affordable internet service to schools, libraries, and other non-profits.  They are also the second largest Educational Broadband Service (EBS) provider in the United States.

This program is ideal for rural counties that have limited internet service or for those hit hard by the hurricane. Educators can get the hotspots and internet service using their own credit card, if employed by a school district and have an official school email address. A one-time $18 admin fee applies for a single modem donation and $120 full-year subscriptions must be paid in advance. Bulk discounts are available. Learn more and get your hotspots here.

Free Refurbished Equipment for Districts

If your district needs hardware to replace equipment damaged by Harvey, you can contact the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They have a very successful program where they refurbish computers, monitors, servers, keyboards, mice, speakers, and switches and provide the like-new units to school districts at no charge. Inmates are taught vital job skills while they repair and rework the technology and school children can benefit.

Rebuilding Your Library After Hurricane Harvey

Shannon Miller has put together an excellent collection of resources to help schools rebuild their libraries after the disaster. You can find them here.

Remarks from Commissioner Morath Update

On September 13, Commissioner of Education Morath gave an update on the disaster to the State Board of Education. He made the following points:

  • The state has worked with FEMA so that all costs to recover from Harvey (for schools) will be paid at a 90/10 split. FEMA will pay 90% of the costs and the local district will pay 10%. (This is typically a 75/25 split.) The costs will cover technical infrastructure and devices.
  • The FEMA procurement process can be tricky, so the district must fill out the paperwork carefully. TEA can help with this, along the the ESC in your area.
  • TEA’s Harvey Resources Website

E-rate Deadline Relief for Hurricane-Affected Areas

For those areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and covered by federal disaster declarations, the following changes are already in place for E-rate applicants. Applicants in the affected areas will have an additional 30 days to respond to the following:

  • Pending Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) questions about their FCC Forms 471 that are in the review process.
  • New Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) questions about their FCC Forms 471 that are in the review process.
  • Any other pending USAC requests for information and/or documentation, for example, for invoice review or FCC Form 486 review.
  • Any other new USAC requests for information and/or documentation, for example, for invoice review or FCC Form 486 review.

In difficult times like these, we are all better as we work together. Our members are some of the best people in the world, and together, we can make a difference for educators and students who are in need.

This blog was updated with additional resources on September 22, 2017.

 

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About the author

Lori Gracey

Lori Gracey has 28 years of experience in education, with 22 years as a curriculum and technology director. She currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) and is responsible for training technology directors, administrators, curriculum supervisors, and teachers across the country. During her eight years in this position, she has led TCEA in membership and revenue growth, helped to pay off their building and purchase a new, larger building, and implemented new conferences, partnerships with other associations, and professional development opportunities for members and non-members. She serves more than 17,000 members and oversees a staff of 21. Lori is also on the board of the Texas Society of Association Executives and SXSWedu and recently served as the Regional Program Chair for the ISTE 2017 Convention in San Antonio.

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