Summer 2024 Tech Update: Returning Devices & End of BYOT


BCSS Families, please read below for information from our IT Department concerning the end of the Bring Your Own Technology program and the process to return district-issued devices for the summer.

The essential details:


Barrow County Schools will no longer be a BYOD/BYOT (Bring Your Own Device/Technology) district as of July 1, 2024.

Primarily for security concerns and to protect students and staff, students and staff will not be permitted to connect personal devices to the BCSS (Barrow County School System) network or computers as of July 1, 2024.

The use of student cell phones in the district will be at the discretion of the student’s school, but regardless of the extent allowed, student cell phones will only function through their cellular plan and will not connect to the district network.

1:1 Chromebooks:

Elementary School students typically will not have a district-assigned Chromebook at home (See Exception #1 below for ECF-funded device), but if you have one checked out from the school, it should be returned before leaving for summer break.

Middle School students should return their district-assigned Chromebooks before leaving for summer break. (See Exception #1 below for ECF-funded device.)

High School students should keep their Chromebooks over the summer.

  • Exception #1: Students (all grades) with Chromebooks funded under the Emergency Connectivity Fund or ECF program (given out at the board office primarily during the first year of the COVID pandemic) may keep the devices over the summer per the terms of the program.
  • Exception #2: Graduating Seniors and students otherwise leaving the district should return their district-issued device to their school.
  • If you have an ECF Chromebook that you no longer need, please return it to your school for re-assignment. We have noted some ECF Chromebooks have not been used in almost a year.
  • If you are uncertain if your Chromebook is ECF-funded, please ask your school.


If you have a district assigned an Internet hotspot, and are no longer in need of it, please return it to your school for collection. If it still has service and you are still in need of it, you can hold on to the hotspot for as long as needed.


BYOD Decision - The full details

As of July 1, 2024, Barrow County Schools will no longer support BYOD in the district. Students and staff should not bring personal computing devices or accessories to the district after this date, and their access to the district network will not be supported. All students and faculty should have access to a district-issued device to use while working in the schools/offices. Student personal cell phone policies will be at the discretion of each school but will not be supported on the district Wi-Fi. This decision was made based on the district providing a device to all students and staff thus removing technology gaps, and the increasing security risk inherent in BYOD devices.


Need –The district previously implemented a BYOD program at a time when we were unable to provide a computing device to each student and mobile devices to staff members. As of this year, all eligible staff members should have a district-assigned computing device (typically a laptop), paraprofessionals will be issued district laptops, all students should have an assigned Chromebook (left at school for K-5, and able to take home for 6-12), and all classrooms with few exceptions should have a 75” Clear Touch interactive panel. As such, there is no longer a lack of technology in need of BYOD to address.

BYOD defined – BYOD devices are defined here as any computing device, tablet, phone, or other devices that connect to a network for functionality that is not owned by the district. This includes laptops, desktops, Chromebooks, iPads, Android tablets, gaming consoles, media-streaming devices (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) and other similar devices.

This also includes printers, networking hubs/switches, wireless access points or extenders, and explicitly includes any “Internet of Things” (IOT) devices such as Alexa hubs, Google hubs, Apple Homepod, WiFi-controlled lighting, Internet-connected thermometers, smart speakers, personal security cameras, etc.

IOT devices are particularly an issue, as they are typically designed for use in homes and typically lack advanced security and management features that exist on enterprise devices to help ensure a secure and safe environment.

Security – The primary reason the district will no longer support BYOD is the elevated level of risk BYOD entails. Over the past several years, the Barrow County School district along with all other districts in Georgia have been the subject of increasing, persistent, and sophisticated attacks from outside parties attempting to gain access to our network to compromise student accounts, steal valuable private and personal data from district users, and/or disable networks until a ransom is paid.  Such attacks are no longer the providence of individual hackers, but rather the work of organized criminal groups and foreign hostile governments, and school districts are not randomly targeted, they are being deliberately chosen. In 2023, 80% of K-12 districts surveyed indicated they were victims of a ransomware attack (

Many of those threats come from outside the network, but increasingly new attacks are coming from compromised personal or IoT (Internet of Things) devices connected to organization networks.  Major banks, casinos, hospital systems, and other enterprise-level institutions have been compromised by unsecured devices inside their networks despite their significant investment in IT security and staff – far exceeding the resources a typical school district can deploy.

Devices owned by the district are subject to configurations, policies, and security measures such as regular updates designed to limit the ability to use the devices to attack the network. Devices not owned by the district may not be subject to this same level of caution and represent a no-longer-acceptable risk to the safety and security of student and staff data.

Exceptions – If there is a particular function required, for example, to satisfy the conditions of an IEP or to assist with accessibility such as visual impairment, families can request exceptions to the BYOD policy through their school, and district IT staff will work with the family to come up with a solution that meets the need while maintaining district security.


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