JONESBORO, Ark- Before the pandemic, the Nettleton School District had no idea how many of their students live without internet access.
Now with the district offering virtual learning, they are giving their students multiple hotspots options to complete schoolwork.
“There’s several things we’re doing, we’re doing hotspots for the homes, which we’re trying to make sure every student that doesn’t have internet access has a hotspot for their house,” says Nettleton Technology Director Dennis Warhurst. “So, then we were thinking, we need something else to fall back on. So, we decided to put the hotspots on the busses.”
Each Nettleton campus is also equipped with Wi-Fi, allowing students to come to the school to do homework as well.
Director of transportation for the district, Greg Rainwater says two school busses will be station around Jonesboro.
Once students arrive, they can stay in their car or sit outside the bus.
Their school issued iPad will automatically connect and, they can complete and submit work. Warhurst says multiple families just received their home hotspots.
“I am pretty sure we’ve given out at least 20 to some of the families,” he says. “Some of the campuses knew 100% they needed something, and we took some to the high school and junior high this morning. So, they have families waiting on them to get today.”
Warhurst says they have a duty to serve and educate students and, he says providing hotspots falls into that duty.
He says they did not realize the number of students without internet access. But says after COVID, the at home hotspots will be here to stay.
While the district has purchased over 100 hotspots, they will purchase more if needed.
“We never really thought about it, but we’re finding out there are families that don’t have internet at home,” says Warhurst. “Fortunately for us, the state with their GEARS funding, we were able to get 185 hotspots.”
The busses will serve students starting tomorrow, with one bus stationed at South Caraway Baptist Church, and another at First NEA Church from 9 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday.
Warhurst says if it is successful, they will add four additional buses around town.