Westside Community Schools Announces 2021-2022 Switch from Laptops to iPads


Ava Van Gelder

Westside Community Schools will switch to providing iPads for all students next school year. Now, elementary students have iPads while middle and high schools students have laptops.

On Wednesday, March 3, Superintendent Mike Lucas announced on Twitter that Westside Community Schools would be giving iPads to all students starting in the 2021-22 school year. 

“Technology is a big part of what we do at Westside,” Lucas said in the tweet. “We are excited to announce we are getting brand new iPads for ALL students for 2021-22!” 

Previously, middle and high school students were given MacBook Air laptops, while elementary school students already had iPads. Westside Technology Director Paul Lindgren said there are a range of benefits to the change. Lindgren also said that one of these benefits is added security, with features not currently available on laptops. 

“Everything on an iPad is encrypted by default,” Lindgren said. “Apple’s ‘Secure Enclave’ is hardware built into the processors of these iPads that handles management of the encryption and access based on the various forms of authentication. Some of these same security features are just now starting to appear on some of Apple’s laptop models and will eventually be on all their devices, but not right now.”

Science instructor Angela Bergman said the iPads will work better for students, and she said she thinks they will not be too much of a challenge for students to learn to use. 

“I think the functionality of the iPads is a little better than computers,” Bergman said “We will be able to annotate and make changes easier. I’m also excited that I think it will be easier and more user friendly. I know students and staff are worried about the change, but I don’t anticipate that the drawbacks will be any worse than getting a new laptop and having to learn that machine.” 

Bergman also said that iPads will be more convenient. 

“I think it will be more convenient,” Bergman said. “I like the idea of the pen/crayon. So combined with our switch to Google Classroom, that will make it easier for students to do work, not lose papers, and make assessment easier. The other thing is, I see my student bring home their computer every day along with all the other stuff they have to carry. I’m looking forward to a lighter backpack for both of us!”

Librarian Theresa Gosnell said that note-taking will be easier with the iPads and that she said she thinks students will benefit from it. 

“I think that the students will adjust quickly to the change to iPads,” Gosnell said. “I think there will be some benefits of the use of iPads. For example, some students will take advantage of using the pencil and taking notes with the pencil.” 

Lindgren also noted that the devices will not use remote keyboards through bluetooth. 

“[The iPads will not use] Bluetooth. [They will use an] actual physical/magnetic “smart” connection between the keyboard and the iPad,” Lindgren said.

Lindgren also said there is going to be a program in the summer to sell laptops and some iPads to students. 

“There will be Westside student laptops and iPads available for sale this summer, [but] details are still being worked out,” Lindgren said. 

Unfortunately, it appears that the decision to switch faces opposition from many students. A recent non-scientific survey by Westside Wired found that 67.3% of 780 students polled oppose the change to iPads and would prefer to keep their laptops. 

Sophomore Noah Whitney said that he thinks the switch will be interesting. He also said that he does not plan to buy the school computer. 

“I like working on a computer, but I think iPads will be a fun new change,” Whitney said. “I don’t think I will buy my laptop mainly because outside of school I just don’t have much of a use for it.”