As schools across the country shut their doors indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of students are now adjusting to online learning. But for low-income families who may not have access to WiFi, this transition is a problem.
To help students access the internet, the Austin Independent School District (ISD) has deployed 110 school buses with Wi-Fi to neighborhoods and apartment complexes where the district identified as having the highest needs.
Starting on Monday, students who live in 300-feet proximity to the strategically-placed buses will be able to access the internet on their school computers on weekdays between 8 am and 2 pm.
The WiFi-equipped buses are funded through a $600,000 grant from Kajeet, an education technology provider. Though the grant process began months before the coronavirus outbreak, Kajeet used their collaboration with the district to support the new plan to provide students with WiFi during COVID-19. Kajeet will continue providing WiFi on buses during the next school year for field trips and activities.
The district has also provided students in grades 3 to 7 who don’t have computers with Chromebook laptops as well as WiFi hotspots if needed. Students in grades 8 to 12 have already been provided with devices from an existing school program.