System Maintenance

Summer is no vacation for a K-12 school’s IT team. In fact, at most schools, the summer months offer the best opportunity to take care of important maintenance tasks that can get laid aside during the school year.

Here are six summer maintenance projects for your team to knock out before the first day of school rolls around:

1. Evaluate Your Current Technology

During the academic year, you’re probably getting hammered with break-fix tickets and help-desk requests, so summer offers the perfect time to take a long, hard look at your current technology. What’s working well? What software needs an upgrade? Which hardware needs to find a new home?

Find out about your existing technology ecosystem. What pieces are important? Who owns the technology?

Identify the key problems. Maybe these are technology use issues, or maybe they’re people issues. Does the team really understand how to use the technology? Are they using it the right way? Are teachers or other staff members having to create workarounds you didn’t know about?

Make sure you know what’s going on and what technology problems your team might be facing before another year bears down on you.

2. Conduct Preventive Maintenance

Summer is the perfect time to replace fraying wires, faulty components, and used consumables. You can also spend time inspecting and cleaning equipment.

If you’ve taken time to evaluate your systems, the summer is perfect for updating or upgrading hardware and software, including installing new versions of current operating systems. You should also monitor the functionality and condition of equipment and networks. That means testing web site links and accesses and installing or removing applications and equipment.

You’ll also want to add or delete users from your system and modify certain users’ properties or rights. And now that the hallways are quiet, you’ve got the perfect chance to back up all those files that users have stored on your school’s network during the academic year.

3. Implement Your Most Disruptive Projects

Have you been planning to install updated wireless equipment? Conduct a giant E-Rate cabling project? Overhaul your entire school’s technology infrastructure?

Summer is the time to knock out these projects so teachers and learners don’t have to step around cables, sawdust, and workers. Even though some big projects may just take a day or two to complete, they disrupt classroom learning. Getting them out of the way during summer break can minimize that disruption.

If you think it’s okay to undertake your project during the year, go ahead and schedule it with your outsourced provider. Perhaps you can get a big project taken care of during a teacher workday, a school holiday, or even over a weekend.

Speaking of outsourced providers, take advantage of the summer break to review your service agreements, update your contracts, and find out about any new services your managed service provider may offer.

4. Update Your School’s Cybersecurity Protection.

The year 2020 broke records for a lot of things including the number of cybersecurity attacks on educational institutions. Ransomware attacks against schools doubled between 2019 and 2020.

In February of 2021, cyberhackers breached security at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, compromising 250,000 people’s personal information.

Increasingly, criminals see schools as vulnerable targets for cybercrime. You don’t want this to happen at your institution.

During the summer, update your anti-virus and anti-malware software. Make sure all your data protection systems are up to date. Be especially wary of phishing attacks on teachers. And definitely prepare faculty and staff members to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

You may want to develop a whole cybersecurity training program for your school’s team. You can teach everyone together how and why to choose strong passwords, ways to recognize scams, and what to do if an email or attachment seems ill-intentioned.

5. Prepare to Onboard New Faculty and Staff Members.

New teachers and other staff members will be starting with the students in the fall. Hopefully, you’ll be given a chance to work with these new employees, sharing what they’ll need to know to succeed with your school’s technology.

If you haven’t already developed a formal onboarding process for your new faculty and staff members, now’s the perfect time to do it. And if you have been onboarding new team members for a while, see where your curriculum or approach needs updating.

A good IT process for new hires includes training on the software and hardware they’ll be using, setting up their accounts, learning the security guidelines, and familiarizing them with the tools they’ll have at hand.

You’ll also want to order new equipment, such as laptops, mouses, cables, monitors, or keyboards. And of course, you’ll need to schedule several check-ins with new team members over the first few days and weeks as they’re just getting accustomed to everything.

6. Meet With Current Staff Members.

While a teacher’s summer vacation gets way overrated, summer does offer school staff members a time to catch up on non-teaching activities. Meeting with the Director of Information Technology could be at the top of the list.

During the summer months, you have a great opportunity to assess your school’s employees. Find out what technology works for them. Learn about their frustrations. See what suggestions they have. Discover their needs. You can use what you learn to improve your overall technology program.

Summer may even be a great time for a meeting with that one staff member whom you find yourself at loggerheads with. While difficult conversations are never easy (that’s why they’re difficult), you may be able to iron out your differences of opinion so you enter the fall semester working in harmony with others.

7. Review and Improve Your User Support Process.

Is your help desk actually helpful? If you’re spending all your time in break-fix mode during the school year, summer gives you an opportunity to change that.

Start by writing down your processes, rules, and boundaries. Share the ones that are appropriate for everyone; internalize what’s just for you.

Create a formal agreement with your administrative team so they know what they can expect you to handle urgently, what you’ll get to in a reasonable timeframe, and what you shouldn’t have to address at all.

If your helpdesk consists of an array of fragmented solutions, talk to us about integrating your user support process. We can help you manage all your assets, including tickets and technicians in one easy-to-use system.

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