The 2021-2022 school year has started in-person, with the school district distributing laptops and iPads to all students. While the devices aren’t as central to the school experience this year, you may still have some questions about setting them up.
Seattle Schools technical staff have posted documents and videos to their web site, in several different languages. There is much more information available this year, so please start on that web site for official information: District Tech Support page
District technology staff can be reached at 206-252-0100 or firstname.lastname@example.org from 8am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.
Response time can be much shorter if you include your child’s SPS user name (like 1FMLast@seattleschools.org) and some identifying information for the device, such as a serial number or device name. Look up the device name on a laptop using Microsoft’s instructions, and find the serial number or device name for iPads using Apple’s instructions. For iPads, the device name is a few lines above the serial number in the Settings app.
For community-based, volunteer support you can join https://www.facebook.com/groups/hazelwolfk8communitygroup/ or email email@example.com with your technology questions and issues. Volunteers may be able to help with common issues or get you connected with the right school or district staff and resources.
Please also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have feedback on this page. Suggestions and corrections are welcome and encouraged!
School Campus Wi-Fi
Students may need to bring a laptop or iPad to school with them. District-issued devices are configured to automatically connect to SPS Wi-Fi.
Students who bring family-owned devices will need to set up the Wi-Fi connection. SPS has provided Wi-Fi instructions (found in the SPS tech support FAQ). Two options are provided for non-district devices: SPS-Username or SPS-Guest. The SPS-Username connection is preferred because it does not require re-entering the password every day, and guest networks are often given lower priority.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I pay the student technology fee?
You should use your parent account to log in at The Source. After you’ve logged in, click the School Pay link on the left. Then click on School Payments, and find “FY21-22 Student Device Program Fee” in the list and add that to your cart. You can pay the fee for multiple students at the same time. Check the Technology Usage Fee page for more details, including conditions for waiving the fee.
What do I do if I configured an iPad with the wrong iCloud account?
The iPads are locked down in a way that prevents changing the iCloud account yourself. You will need to call or email the district. Be sure to include your iPad’s serial number and your child’s SPS user name so SPS staff can reset the device without needing to call or email you back.
Do SPS iPads have a headphone jack?
Yes. It may be hard to find due to the hard case. If you’re holding the iPad with the screen facing you and the home button along the bottom edge, the jack is at the top left corner.
Laptop Setup Guide
The district laptop setup guide covers the initial login process very quickly, so we have developed this step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Plug in the laptop and let it charge while you work on steps 2 and 3.
Step 2: Figure out the student login information. This is covered on the district page. If your child had a login last year, the username is unchanged. The formula is “1FMLast@seattleschools.org”, where ‘F’ is first initial, ‘M’ is middle initial, and ‘Last’ is the last name. If your child used their account last year, the password should be unchanged. If you’re new to the district and haven’t logged in before, the official guidance is that the school librarian or your child’s teacher will share the default password. You can go to https://onedrive.seattleschools.org/ on a non-SPS device to see if the username and password you have will work. It is helpful to do that before trying on the laptop so you know you have the right information.
Step 3: If the account was given a default password, change the password. This is a good time to set a new password if you have already logged in to https://onedrive.seattleschools.org/ in Step 2 using a separate device. After a successful login to OneDrive, click the circle in the upper right corner of that web page, then click on the “My account” link under your child’s name. The next page has a “Password” item in the list on the left, click on that to set a new password.
Step 4: Connect the laptop to Wi-Fi. After the laptop turns on, you will see a screen with a photo background and a couple of icons in the lower right corner. Click the one that looks like a globe, select your Wi-Fi network from the list, and enter your Wi-Fi password.
Step 5: Try to log in with the student login information you figured out in Steps 2 and 3. If login succeeds, you will have a long wait while some automatic one-time setup happens. No need to watch the dots spin around, you can come back in 20 minutes!
Step 6: You’re in! Give Google Chrome a try. The Seattle Schools website should load.
Step 7: You aren’t 100% done yet, although the laptop is mostly usable at this point. Leave the laptop plugged in to power, logged in, and connected to Wi-Fi for several hours at least. There are more Windows 10 updates that will download and install in the background, and the time it takes for that to happen may depend on your internet connection speed. After a while, and when there are up to 30 minutes for the final update steps to run, restart the laptop (Windows icon at lower left, then click the “Power” button in the start menu that pops up, then “Restart”). It will not be usable while it finishes the updates. After rebooting and logging in again, the Microsoft Teams app should be automatically installed, but if it isn’t you can use https://teams.microsoft.com/ in the Chrome browser.
Internet Connectivity Issues
If you have 3 or more people on streaming meetings and you’re having connection issues, one thing to consider is the upload speed of your internet connection – especially if you’re using Comcast. Microsoft Teams is using about 1 megabit per second of upload data, which can be a big chunk of the available capacity.
While Comcast markets their speed tiers in terms of download speed, they aren’t very forthcoming about upload speeds. So here’s the decoder ring for approximate upload speeds with their current Seattle-area plans (as of spring 2021):
- Internet Essentials: 5 Mbit/s upload
- Performance: 5 Mbit/s upload
- Blast: 10 Mbit/s upload
- Extreme: 15-20 Mbit/s upload
- “Gigabit”: 35 Mbit/s upload
Use a site like speedtest.net to check your actual upload speed, some older Comcast plans have speeds that don’t match up with the above.
If you have several people on Teams or Zoom calls with only 5 Mbit/s of upload capacity available, it’s likely you will have connection issues.
For these lower speed connections, turning off your camera when it’s not needed is the no-cost option to improve simultaneous meetings.
Changing to a “Blast” or faster plan would be a simple way to have enough upload capacity.
T-Mobile and Verizon now offer 5G- and LTE-based home internet services in the Seattle area that may have better upload bandwidth (depending on signal strength and network conditions).
Depending on where you live, Centurylink is another option. They have fiber optic internet at two speeds:
100 Mbit/s download + 100 Mbit/s upload
940 Mbit/s download + 940 Mbit/s upload
Here’s a map from the City of Seattle showing where service is available: http://www.seattle.gov/tech/initiatives/broadband/gigabit-availability