Cobb County

Metro Atlanta school district turns buses into Wi-Fi hotspots for kids

MARIETTA, Ga. — When school suddenly shifted from in-person to online because of the coronavirus, many school districts scrambled to get computers and Wi-Fi to students who did not have access at home.

Now, one district has come up with a unique solution.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was in Marietta, where buses are now providing internet for students.

Here's how it works at one Marietta apartment complex:

The bus comes to the complex during the week, and that one bus provides Wi-Fi for all of the students, everyone within a 300-yard radius. Last week was the first week Marietta City Schools tried the mobile Wi-Fi units, and officials said it was a success.

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When the governor shut down schools, districts across the state were suddenly thrown into a world of remote learning, but thousands of students couldn't learn at home because they didn't have access to a computer or internet service.

Marietta City Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera tried to solve the problem by buying Wi-Fi hot spots in bulk, but they weren’t available right away.

So Rivera and his staff turned 12 school buses into hot spots that they are now letting students use in their neighborhoods Monday through Friday.

“So there’s really two ways that it’s working, and it depends on where the bus is parked,” Rivera said. “In some areas, where it’s a very densely populated apartment complex, we’re literally pulling the school bus right in the middle of the complex parking lot.”


It's been working in neighborhoods where students are more spread out.

“They just drop a blanket, they sit in their front yard and connect, and if they have questions, they ask Miss Terry, and she helps them with their laptop or whatever the case may be,” Rivera said.

Other school districts are making sure kids are connected at home, as well. Clayton County is rolling out a plan where it will hand out a computer and WIFI to every student before the fall semester.

Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb, Cherokee, Douglas and Cobb counties are also planning for a future where remote learning is somehow involved, and they want students to be prepared.

No one has really decided what next year will look like in terms of learning because they’re basing everything on state guidelines, as well as listening to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say about social distancing.

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