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Granite School District provides Wi-Fi buses to get internet access to students

By Jed Boal, KSL TV | Posted - Apr. 27, 2020 at 9:37 a.m.



WEST VALLEY CITY — Utah students are doing their school work from home these days, but not all students have good enough internet access, or any internet, to get the work done. So the Granite School District sent out 35 specially-equipped buses last week to help students get online.

The student Wi-Fi buses are parked at strategic locations across the district, including parks, neighborhoods, and apartment complexes.

“These are mobile hotspots they can move from place to place, and provide a Wi-Fi signal up to 300 feet,” said Ben Horsley, a Granite School District spokesman.

They are equipped with routers and secured so that only students with district Chromebooks can log in. Right now, the buses are parked at those locations from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The district may extend those hours into the evening depending upon usage.

“Those students can come up, still socially distance, and access technology and their distance-learning packets,” said Horsley.

The Granite School District has a very diverse socio-economic population, he said.

“We have some of the most impoverished students in the entire state. We also have a large contingency of refugee students,“ Horsley said.

The district has distributed more than 30,000 Chromebooks. But they also wanted to make sure the students could log in and use them for their assignments.

“We are tracking numbers based on our pre-produced lunches and get a heat map. We were able to identify where the most need would likely be,” the district spokesman said.

Students can use an interactive map to find a bus closest to them.

“We are getting pretty good feedback,” said Horsley last week. “We have over 300 students who have logged on just in the last three days.”

Some locations have had as many as two dozen students logging in. Other locations have had none. They will re-position the bus based upon their data in order to give the students the maximum benefit.

“This is something that we hope to utilize in the summer, as well,” he said.

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Jed Boal

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