On April 13th, we received a new shelter-in-place order, stating that all Austin residents are required to stay home until May 8th. With that came the additional requirement of wearing masks when out in public. With stricter safety measures and an extended quarantine, the people of Austin are seeing their current reality as a new normal. We don’t know what the future holds, but school being out for summer is within the realm of possibilities.
All students, from kindergarten through college, have had to adjust to the world of virtual learning. In this time where we’re all doing the best we can, the Internet is our best solution to education. Computers are the new classroom; however, not every student has access to online.
In an attempt to alleviate this problem, wireless provider Kajeet has recently made a large donation. Their generous grant of over $600,000 is providing the Austin Independent School District with a fleet of Wi-Fi equipped buses. These buses, 110 in total, will be spread throughout neighborhoods and sent primarily to the identified locations that need them most. Between the hours of 8 a.m and 2 p.m Monday through Friday, these buses will serve as internet hubs in which students can access school computers and their online classes.
This solution still pays mind to the importance of social distancing. Wi-Fi signal can be accessed as far as 300 feet away from these vehicles, meaning that those using their services can do so safely.
There are 856 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Travis County alone. Within Texas, the number is an alarming 13,906 cases. This virus is on the top of everyone’s list of concerns, and following mandated orders is so crucially important. With that said, access to education is another burning issue. These Wi-Fi buses are a step in the right direction.