Internet access for online learning is about to get much easier for thousands of Georgia students living in rural areas.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced that AT&T is donating 448 Wi-Fi rangers, or mobile hotspots, to help 36 Georgia school districts. Each of the Wi-Fi rangers can provide internet to about 45 devices.
“AT&T is doing our state a great service, helping us take a step forward to address the lack of available broadband connectivity for Georgia students,” Kemp said. “This issue has come into sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic as so many rural students struggle to continue remote learning without internet access. We thank AT&T for recognizing that the children affected by this lack of connectivity are the young people who represent our future. Their generosity will leave a lasting legacy.”
This is a major roll out. Literally. Those Wi-Fi rangers will be placed on school buses in the rural areas.
“It’s just a small box that attaches to the roof of the bus," said Madison County Schools Superintendent Michael Williams, who showed Channel 2 Action News how the rangers work.
“It’s just a small box that attaches to the roof of the bus, Williams said. "We have the device plugged into a 12 volt port.”
“We will utilize our mobile hotspots on our buses and take them throughout our to various areas that we have identified.”
The donation will help bridge the connectivity gap during the COVID-19 pandemic when internet is crucial for many.
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Each school district will create its own plan to reach students. Williams explained how the system is laid out in Madison.
“We will have a daily schedule of time, two, three, four hour blocks at a specific location," he said. "We will take our bus there and leave it there during the day and move it from location to location.”
“The range for the hotspots are 100 yards, a football field. So, yes they can sit in their house, or sit in their cars and work from those areas.”
Williams says having this mobility is key, especially if distance learning continues into the upcoming school year.
“We feel very confident that we will be able to serve our students and continue distance learning if necessary in the future," he said.
The following school districts will receive Wi-Fi Rangers:
Baldwin, Barrow, Bleckley, Brooks, Bryan, Butts, Calhoun City Schools Calhoun, Camden, Dooly, Emanuel, Floyd, Franklin, Glynn, Greene, Jackson, Jasper, Laurens, Liberty, Madison, McIntosh, Miller, Mitchell, Morgan, Murray, Paulding, Pike, Putnam, Rockdale, Schley, Screven, Turner, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, Wilkes
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