BRISTOL – Parents have been asked to return public school district issued Lenovo tablets after one of them reportedly burned through a child’s backpack. There was no indication that anyone was hurt in the incident.
Superintendent Catherine Carbone sent a message to parents Thursday night alerting them to the problem.
On social media, Amber Keyser originally posted a photo of the burned tablet and the damage it caused, but later posted that she removed it “because people were not understanding that I was doing it for the safety of the children not for the money because all of our children have these tablets and it’s about the children the school did not mess up whatsoever it was a manufacturing problem.”
In response to an inquiry by The Bristol Press, Keyser said she was not available to talk but confirmed the defective tablet was assigned to her son, who attends West Bristol K-8 School.
Some parents on social media indicated it was mostly students in kindergarten through second grade that had the tablets, but at some schools third graders had them too because the school ran out of Chromebooks for them. There is no indication of any problem with the Chromebooks.
“This evening we alerted families of an incident regarding one of the Lenovo tablet devices distributed to pre-K through grade 3 scholars. Late this afternoon, we were made aware of a situation in which a tablet battery ignited,” Carbone said in a prepared statement. “We have contacted the manufacturer, Lenovo, to report this incident. Until we are certain that this is an isolated event, we are requesting families to cease using the tablet device. Do not charge the device, and turn off power to the device. All devices will be returned to the school/district until we have an understanding of the malfunction.”
The rest of Carbone’s letter to parents was posted by a parent on Facebook, in which the superintendent asked parents to bring the device with their child to their school Friday and a member of the school staff would collect it. Parents of children who are continuing with virtual remote learning, or who were unable to accompany their children to school, were asked to bring the devices in that afternoon.
“Tablet devices will be kept at the school until we hear from our Lenovo representative and we determine the next appropriate steps,” she wrote in the letter. “Again please be vigilant this evening with the storage of your tablet. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your continued collaboration as we work to resolve this issue and ensure students’ safety.”
Carbone did not say what model of tablet was involved. The Lenovo website does not list any tablet recalls but does list a 2018 voluntary recall of some ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5th Generation laptops that “may have an unfastened screw that could damage the laptop’s battery causing overheating, potentially posing a fire hazard.”
The lithium-ion rechargeable batteries commonly used on portable electronic devices can be a safety hazard since they contain a flammable electrolyte and may become pressurized if they become damaged.
The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that devices containing these batteries be kept in carry-on baggage.
“If these devices are packed in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation and packed so they are protected from damage,” according to the www.faa.gov website. “Smoke and fire incidents involving lithium batteries can be mitigated by the cabin crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin.”
The U.S. Postal Service allows lithium-ion batteries, or devices containing them, to be mailed domestically within certain restrictions.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.