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WiFi hotspot buses help Cabell County kids stay logged in

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CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — We’ve all grown accustomed to the pandemic changing our plans and causing us to come up with creative solutions to the roadblocks it creates.

In Cabell County, several middle schools have had to go fully virtual over the past few weeks due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Yet, the district is maneuvering this obstacle and trying to provide students with access to school despite it all.

In neighborhoods across the state, you find a rather unusual sight—school buses parked at the curb, and in empty parking lots; but these aren’t just any buses—they’re equipped with WiFi.

Alexis Nickerson helps her little brother log into his tablet.

These, and buses like it are helping connect kids with school.

“I think it is a great idea, because say the computer lab was full, you could still do work.” 

Alexis Nickerson, fifth grade student

For some families, virtual learning can pose a problem. Many in this school district don’t have reliable access to it.

“I would look out and see some of them sitting on the bench over  there and even near the playground, you know, using the Wi-Fi.” 

Beatrice Spradley, head of the computer lab at Rotary Gardens Apartments
Beatrice Spradley (middle) helps Alexis (left) and Jamere (right) get connected to the buses WiFi.

“Usually our students are riding these buses to and from school or between sites, but since we have Milton Middle School and Huntington East Middle School closed right now, we are parking them in locations were students can access and get their schoolwork done.” 

Jason Jackson, director of technology and information systems, Cabell County Schools

And so far, Jackson says, the numbers show students have been taking advantage of the program.

“These buses have anywhere between 16 to 18 people connecting to them a day.” 

Jason Jackson, director of technology and information systems, Cabell County Schools

Officials from the school district tell us there are about six of these school buses deployed around Cabell County right now. They’re meant to ease the burden of the connectivity requirements of online school.

Beatrice Spradley, a resident of the Rotary Gardens Apartments, runs the computer lab there. But, she says having this bus in addition to that helps give kids internet access, especially when unexpected setbacks happen.

“Like right now, we shut down for ten days and they still have the access of the computer.” 

Beatrice Spradley, head of the computer lab at Rotary Gardens Apartments

On the days the district is all virtual, 20 buses are deployed. On days like this where hybrid learning is underway, there are six.

“We’ve started doing this as a way to help those people in the outlying  areas and in areas that maybe lack full access to give students a chance to go someplace safe to be able to access their internet and their online resources.” 

Jason Jackson, director of technology and information systems, Cabell County Schools

The district is making sure kids can continue their education, even during these very difficult times.

For a full list of locations of these WiFi bus hotspots, visit this website.

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