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Reno Schools Move Students to Remote Learning Over a Weekend, With an Assist from Xerox

When school officials in Washoe County, Nevada, the home of the city of Reno, made the decision to move to remote learning on March 25, the initial plan was for most students to print lesson packets that were posted online. The school district also printed a small number of paper copies and made them available at local community centers. Within hours, all the copies were gone.

Feedback from parents quickly made clear why. A surprising number of families—thousands of them, according to local news reports—lacked at-home access to computers, wifi, printers and other tech required to access the educational materials. School district officials realized they had to scale up their printing services as fast as possible.

And that’s when Tami Cummings’ phone rang.

Cummings is an 18-year veteran county employee who now serves as the digital communications supervisor in the Office of the County Manager. Her four-person staff are deemed essential workers, and typically print critical documents such as social services and foster service payments on two Xerox machines, a Nuvera® and an Iridesse®.

While the school district has its own printing facilities, “they could only do so much with what they had, so they contacted my staff to see if we could come in earlier then our regular shift and stay later to help,” she says.

That was on a Wednesday night and by 4:30 a.m. the next morning, Cummings staff was at work printing supplies to be used by some 5,000 kindergarten-through-fifth graders. The plan was to distribute packets by putting them on school buses that would follow their usual routes, but instead of picking up students, the bus drivers would drop off the lesson plans.

As the county printing team began to churn out packets, they had service needs that they escalated to Steve Kiser, the director of sales at Sierra Office Solutions, a Xerox Business Solutions company. Kiser arranged to have a Xerox service technician talk to Cummings’ team virtually to make sure the machines, particularly the older Nuvera, were running well and able to handle the heavy volume of printing, which lasted for four days, through the weekend, from before dawn to 9:30 at night.

“Steve immediately stepped in and said, ‘We’re going to take care of this for you, Tami,’” Cummings says.

By Saturday evening, both machines were running smoothly, but Cummings was still concerned she would fall short by about 10% of the 5,000 copies she needed by Monday morning. When Kiser heard that, he made a backup plan of his own. He grabbed his two teenage daughters and they headed to Kiser’s XBS office, where they began printing lesson packets on their own machines, at no additional charge.

“They spent the entire day on Sunday working three or four machines all day long to supplement what we were able to supply from our own facility,” Cummings says. “That was incredible—I’ve never seen that kind of commitment before. Steve Kiser literally saved the day.”

For Cummings and her team, delivering all the necessary packets—on time—was a source of great pride.

“We all felt invested and involved in this—that’s what we do in our community,” she says. “It’s so, so important as first responders whether in communications or in public safety that we meet and surpass the public’s expectations. That’s our mandate.”

And with hard work and a good partner like Kiser, Cummings and her team were able to fulfill it.