Acing the distance-learning transition

From its beginnings in 1863 as a one-room schoolhouse to its present district of eight schools with 5,800 students, Union School District has provided the San Jose, California, community with schools that are second to none.

1863

Founded

480

Teachers and staff

9

Locations on 8x8

1863

Founded

480

Teachers and staff

9

Locations on 8x8

1863

Founded

480

Teachers and staff

9

Locations on 8x8

1863

Founded

480

Teachers and staff

9

Locations on 8x8

"8x8 is like oxygen–we don't notice it, but we couldn't live without it."
Lisa DeLapo, Director of Information and Instructional Technology, Union School District
"8x8 is like oxygen–we don't notice it, but we couldn't live without it."
Lisa DeLapo, Director of Information and Instructional Technology, Union School District
"8x8 is like oxygen–we don't notice it, but we couldn't live without it."
Lisa DeLapo, Director of Information and Instructional Technology, Union School District
"8x8 is like oxygen–we don't notice it, but we couldn't live without it."
Lisa DeLapo, Director of Information and Instructional Technology, Union School District

Business Overview

“There are a million reasons why schools absolutely need to have reliable phones every single day,” says Lisa DeLapo, Director of Information and Instructional Technology for Union School District. The district’s legacy phone system was going down weekly “like clockwork,” cutting off critical communications for everything from forgotten lunches to medical emergencies. Back then, no one foresaw the total disruption that was yet to come.

From its beginnings in 1863 as a one-room schoolhouse to its present district of eight schools with 5,800 students, Union School District has provided the San Jose, California, community with schools that are second to none. Ms. DeLapo didn’t let the unreliable phone system compromise that reputation. The district switched to 8x8 X Series. The mobility inherent in the new 8x8 system made an immediate impact.

The Challenge: Switch to distance learning, overnight

On March 11, 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on public life would exceed anything Californians had seen in a century. A stay-at-home order was issued for the entire state. School facilities closed to keep students safe and to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

Union School District quickly assembled a distance-learning program so students could complete the academic year. It was up to Ms. DeLapo to figure out how parents, teachers and staff would communicate. Everyone at Union School District needed to stay connected, even though they were working from home. Teachers and therapists who previously relied on desk phones needed to take their extensions with them. Normally they would have to rely on giving out their personal cell phone numbers, but Ms. DeLapo had a better plan.

The Solution: 8x8 Work App

Ms. DeLapo told everyone, including teachers, to start using the 8x8 Work App. She kept the district’s familiar call routing structure intact – all incoming calls go to a single number with an automated attendant. Now anyone could be reached by dialing their extension, wherever they were.

“When we first switched over to 8x8, our staff could become instantly mobile,” says Trent Doan, System Administrator. Many had chosen to use the 8x8 Work App on their mobile phones and laptop computers so they are always in contact, wherever they are. The district’s familiarity with the 8x8 Work App proved to be a winning disaster-response strategy.

“The teachers love that they can log into 8x8 and conduct business, like they’re in their classrooms,” Ms. DeLapo says. “Other than downloading the app, they didn’t have to change anything else.” “8x8 makes it easy to keep teachers’ direct-dial and cell phone numbers confidential by assigning their Caller IDs as the main district number,” Mr. Doan explains. And incoming calls to teachers’ extensions are blocked when they are teaching, thanks to clever scheduling in the automated attendant.

The Benefits: Safe, nonstop education

Schools can’t control unpredictable disruptions like the pandemic, but they can control their readiness to respond to them. Union School District leveraged their 8x8 phone system to react overnight to the pandemic and focus on educating students, knowing their communications would continue uninterrupted. With 8x8, teachers and staff can connect and collaborate on any device to create exceptional student outcomes.

“The switch was seamless and 8x8 has never been down,” Ms. DeLapo says. “8x8 is like oxygen – we don’t notice it, but we couldn’t live without it.”

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