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A school district in Winston Salem, North Carolina is sending out warnings after a student’s Chromebook started smoking and sparking during his Zoom class. The school district is now sending emails to parents saying “Chromebooks should never be left plugged in and unsupervised for long periods of time, especially overnight.”

The student was also wearing a pair of wired headphones. When he yanked them off of his head to leave the room it pulled the smoking laptop onto the floor leaving burn marks on the carpet.

The school district’s tech page says that these devices use lithium-based rechargeable which can be hazardous and pose a fire threat when used improperly or if they malfunction. A school spokesperson said that prolonged charging and limited ventilation can damage the battery.

While I was researching this article I found that this isn’t the first time that this happened.

Let’s go back to 2019, At Lewisville, North Carolina, where a Chromebook overheated and began to smolder. This device was being used by a 3rd-grade student. The student yelled that there was fire and the teacher evacuated the classroom.

Another staff member pulled the fire alarm shortly afterward. Another staff member then ran into the classroom with a fire extinguisher and stopped the smoldering before the local fire department arrived.

The school district pulled all of their Chromebooks out of service and was eventually broken down and sold for parts.

They purchased a new fleet of Chromebook later that year which were not placed in service until they were completely torn down and evaluated by the school’s IT department.