SCCPSS keeps virtual learners connected with WiFi on Wheels program

Education

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System has unveiled its WiFi on Wheels internet connectivity program to assist students in learning online.

Beginning Tuesday, SCCPSS will provide WiFi access to students who don’t have internet connections available at home.

The school district has rolled out 10 buses outfitted with technology that allows each bus to connect with nearby cell towers, thus providing internet access.

Each bus will make two stops daily, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at locations throughout Chatham County.

“Through the bus connection, students can connect up to about 300 to 400 feet away, but there must not be buildings or trees in the way because that will degrade the signal,” said David Feliciano, SCCPSS’s chief data and accountability officer.

He says the school board is aiming to provide internet coverage from 100 locations between Monday and Friday.

Throughout each week, WiFi on Wheels bus stops will include the parking lot of Myers Middle School, JC Cannon Fields, Paradise Park and Islands High School.

Full schedule:

Feliciano says the program’s goal is to offer WiFi connections to students who might otherwise struggle with the virtual, at-home learning format.

“We knew we had students out there that did not have internet connectivity or were having difficulties connecting to the internet, so we went ahead and purchased these devices,” Feliciano said.

“With our community partners, we worked with our local schools to find out what were the best locations we can place them to service the students that needed them the most,” he said.

The SmartBuses use 4G LTE speeds for cell tower connection and allow students to connect via personal or school-issued devices.

SCCPSS officials say the service is Children’s Internet Protection Act-compliant and provides education-only content filtering.

For any students who may have difficulties connecting to the WiFi services, Feliciano says families can contact their teacher as a first line of support for any glitches that can be quickly solved

“If it warrants more advanced review of what’s going on, the library media specialists can be involved to provide that second level of support, and if needed, the device can be brought in and swapped out for another one,” he said, adding, “Finally, if the device is damaged, we can always provide another one and have that one repaired to put back in service.”

SCCPSS plans to add 30 more of the portable WiFi connection devices in the future.

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