The COVID-19 Impact on Education
We have all been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. Whether jobs were lost, home offices were created, or you are still trying to navigate the school year with little ones — it has had an impact on us all. We recently sat down with our leading Sales Manager, Holly Paperi, and got her take on what this impact has looked like both industry-wide and specifically with our Education customers. You can also listen to our conversation on our latest Between Two Tablets podcast episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
First, we dove into what things looked like in schools from a technical standpoint pre- COVID-19. Here were a few of her remarks:
“Every school kind of functioned a little bit differently. A few of our customers were 1:1 which means there is one device per student that was assigned to them and they used every single day. A majority of our customers were a 2:1 program where they had a cart of devices in the classroom and then there were two students who shared one device. That was really popular for most schools at the elementary level because they didn’t necessarily need one device for every student – it wasn’t something they were working on every day, all day long.”
This 2:1 program was very popular as Holly mentioned. With the younger grade levels, it wasn’t a dire necessity for each student to have their own device. Especially since they weren’t taking the devices home with them – they were staying in the schools.
Then Came COVID-19
Think back to March when it really became a reality here in the U.S. that this ‘thing’ was going to be a big deal. Schools shut down, students stayed home, but their education needed to continue. Hear what Holly had to say about the technical shift in schools and how transitioning to a 1:1 program became a priority:
“It was pretty much a mad dash for all schools. They all had to go 1:1 for the most part and if they didn’t do that towards the beginning of COVID-19 in the March/April/May timeframe, they are now doing that for this school year. They have seen the emphasis of every student needing a device whether they are doing a blended learning program where they are half at home and half in the classroom, or even from a safety standpoint of not spreading the virus.”
As you can probably imagine, this almost instant switch flooded the market with a high demand for devices – not only in education but across all industries as companies started allowing their employees to work remotely. The manufacturing companies are struggling to keep up:
“There are no Chromebooks on the marketplace right now. The last I heard, the estimated delivery time on those is January. So if schools didn’t have that funding to be able to pull the trigger right away, they kind of got left in the dust.”
This starts to highlight the snowball effect of supply and demand and how COVID-19 has impacted companies and organizations across all industries. Schools need more devices. Manufacturers need to make more devices which means they need more parts. Their parts suppliers can’t get more parts because they weren’t expecting a global pandemic. Before you know it everything feels like it’s at a standstill just waiting and playing catch up.
The fun doesn’t stop there with COVID-19. Holly went on to talk about the schools that were able to transition to a 1:1 initiative and how, now that students are taking devices home for an extended period of time, they are still trying to protect their assets. Typically, TCS sees a high volume of repairs over summer break. However, most of our customers spent the summer trying to collect devices from students’ homes which delayed their summer repair process greatly.
“We usually have a month to get everything repaired for them and get it sent back. Well, this year it looked a lot different as this whole situation has for everyone. Because almost every device was deployed to students and went home with them in March/April, they weren’t able to get those collected from students’ homes until a few weeks ago (early August).
Now, all of those devices are coming into us for repair and we have just a couple weeks to get everything back. So, it is kind of a mad dash here too – and we don’t want to let our customers down. We don’t want to be the reason that a student is unable to get a device.”
It’s times like these that teamwork seems to have a whole new meaning. We are incredibly grateful for our operations staff, our technicians, intake and QA.
“They really deserve the credit right now. They are hustling like nobody’s business back there to make sure that we can get everything returned.”
Holly even spent a day away from sales to do QA so we could dedicate more team members to repairing devices.
“It’s an all-hands on deck situation to make sure we get everything back in a timely manner and so students can get back to school — that’s what is important to us, it’s not just about repairing a screen on an iPad when we know that is how they will get all of their lessons this year.”
Since this is a global health issue, we talked about some of the things we are doing here at TCS to prevent the spread:
“Every single device gets sanitized when it comes into the building and then it gets sanitized throughout the repair. Before it’s sent back out it gets one final clean sweep to make sure it’s safe and can be returned in an appropriate manner.”
From the school’s standpoint, they are tackling device sanitation in various ways. There are actually a few companies (like CleanSlate) that have come out with sanitation devices that utilize UV light to kill bacteria on the device which can be done in large or small quantities depending on the size of the school or organization.
Holly had some final thoughts for our Education customers during this time:
“More than anything, stay positive. We are here to help if we can. We want to do everything we possibly can to make the school year a great school year. The last thing that anyone wants to worry about is a device breaking. It shouldn’t have to be an issue for them – that’s what we want to be able to solve. We are here to solve problems, not create problems.”
This all just goes to show that COVID-19 has caused problems for everyone. Sure, some problems are bigger than others. But, it’s how you choose to handle the problems you will inevitably receive that will either make or break you and your organization. Choose wisely!
All the best,