It is a fact that the Covid19 pandemic has brought many changes in our daily routines and lives, such as in our work and study, and although the strict quarantine will only last a few months, many students will have to continue their classes virtually during the fall semester. It is for this reason that in North Carolina some local fire stations and churches are planning to be set up as Wi-Fi zones to help students who do not have access to good internet service. 

This is a great challenge for districts like Jackson County in Asheville, NC, where WiFi access is a great need even before the pandemic. So stated Jeremiah Jackson,  the Chief Technology Officer for Jackson County Schools, saying he will do everything in his power to ensure that students have everything they need, and will work throughout the summer so that students who want to learn remotely can do so.

“We’ve ordered some hot spots, which provides a filtered internet service that we can give to our students, […] “We have a limited number of those, but we’re going to be handing those out to students with the need.” [… …] “In rural areas, Wi-Fi and internet access is a huge need. It’s a huge problem for significant portions of our student base since 25% to 30% of the families have limited access to the internet… “They also don’t have cell phone service, so giving them a hot spot really is not a solution for them,” Jeremiah Jackson told the abc13NEWS news portal.

That is why they have decided to establish Wi-Fi zones in fire stations, local churches, and community centers. Other counties are discussing the possibility of setting up these zones, especially in fire stations such as Buncombe County where about 40% of students plan to work remotely during the fall, and about 8% of students will be assigned mobile access points for homework because they don’t have Wi-Fi at home, the district has identified 21 families who do not have cell service in their places of residence. In some cases, students will be able to go to stations to download their work onto a tablet or laptop and then work at home, offline.

“It’s not ideal. But if we can help the student be successful, we’ll let them use our parking lot, give them that guest password, and, hopefully, the student will be able to use the internet there in our parking lot… It’s our way of helping those folks who do not have access to the internet,” said  Swannanoa Fire Department Chief Anthony Penland.

In Macon County, the district will provide access points in the main parking area of each school, while Macon County schools will also allow families without Internet access to request wireless jetpacks that can be taken home for student use.

What a good plan for the benefit of our children, our families, and our country. 

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