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4J Is Finalist for Award for Distance Learning Initiatives

District named Smart Cities North America Awards finalist, recognized for keeping students connected to learning during pandemic

Vote Online for Award Finalists (open until Friday, July 2 at 2 p.m.)

Eugene School District 4J has earned national recognition for providing students with the wide-ranging technology and support they required to learn from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

IDC Government Insights has named 4J one of two finalists in the education category for its fourth annual Smart Cities North America Awards. The awards, given in 11 different categories, recognize U.S. municipalities that have implemented smart city projects—public initiatives that use technology and data-gathering to offer new services and economic opportunities and improve residents’ quality of life. Finalists include cities, counties, states, school districts and universities.

Public voting will determine the awards’ winners. Voting opened Monday, June 28 and closes Friday, July 2, at 2 p.m. Pacific time. Each person may submit one vote in each category. The link to cast votes is www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCNAA_2021.

IDC Government Insights recognized Eugene School District 4J, and in particular its Technology Department, for essentially outfitting students with a digital classroom at home when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly closed school buildings on March 16, 2020. All 4J students learned remotely for a full year until March 2021, when students began to return to school buildings in a hybrid on-site/online learning model. Nearly one-third of families elected to have their students continue all-online learning through the end of the 2020–21 school year.

To keep students learning, the technology team moved quickly to purchase more devices, distributed a district laptop or tablet to each of 4J’s nearly 16,000 students, and implemented an additional web filtering platform to better protect students when using technology remotely.

The district worked with an internet provider to provide free broadband access to low-income families, and distributed nearly 800 mobile WiFi hotspots to students who live in areas without broadband internet connection, so they too could remain connected to their educators and peers. Safe internet hubs at school facilities were made available for the small number of students who could not gain internet access at home due to geography.

4J’s technology department deployed the Zoom video conferencing platform and Canvas and Seesaw learning management systems, so students and educators could connect each school day and students could receive and complete assignments online.

The team also provided a tremendously increased amount of tech support for staff, students and families, with a helpdesk available in English and Spanish via an online form, email and phone, as well as creating a myriad of how-to and troubleshooting guides to support self-help.

“We are overwhelmed by the innovative and thoughtful initiatives competing in this year’s Smart Cities North America Awards, executed despite the challenges posed by a global pandemic,” said Ruthbea Yesner, Vice President, IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities and Communities Strategies. “Each finalist represents a best-practice example of how—when innovative technology is paired with a forward thinking and dedicated team—radical change can happen for the betterment of our residents.”

Award winners will be announced on July 13. They will be honored at the Smart Cities Connect conference near Washington, D.C. in October.

Vote Online for Award Finalists (open until Friday, July 2 at 2 p.m.)

More information:

Cast Your Vote Here
Award Finalists Announcement
IDC Government Insights

4J Student Technology: Keep or Return?
4J Technology Support for Families

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