Wi-Fi on Wheels brings internet connection straight to the students

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 11:20 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Richmond County School System is working to improve the learning experience outside the classroom by launching new mobile hotspots on wheels. And it could have a significant impact on student success.

For some Richmond County students, the WI-FI will now be rolling in.

“So, one of the things that the pandemic has really taught us is the importance of the equity divide for our students with digital access. Some students have multiple devices and high-speed internet in their home and other students don’t,” said Dr. Malinda Cobb, associate superintendent.

Around 16,000 students in Richmond County are learning virtually because of the pandemic and connecting to school has been a challenge for many.

“They already weren’t going to school hardly--now they’re really cut short,” Derric Downs said.

Downs lives near Magnolia Apartments -- he says this school year he’s seen the problems kids have connecting

“It’s needed, man, because I’d be seeing the kids out here sitting on the corner trying to connect,” he said.

A new initiative by the district is looking to help close the gap.

“We don’t want our students to have to go to McDonald’s to do their homework, we want to try to help provide more access right here in the neighborhood,” Cobb said.

Through the department of education connectivity grant, the school district is sending 14 buses to neighborhoods across the county for students to have Wi-Fi access.

“We wanted to make sure that more of our students were able to access the internet, after school hours,” Cobb said.

And it’s not just for the virtual students. In light of several other schools transitioning to learning from home due to quarantine numbers, Wi-Fi-on Wheels could help over 600 students who need it.

“In the event that we had to go all virtual like we did last March, we’ll change the schedule and provide new bus routes so that we can provide more access even during the day.”

The district already has Wi-Fi hotspots set up at each school as well, but the buses will be in those 14 neighborhoods Monday through Thursday from 5-7 p.m.

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