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Jackson Public Schools equips school buses with WiFi for virtual learning

JPS installed WiFi on all 52 of its school buses
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:10 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - Jackson Public Schools (JPS) is making it easier for students to connect to the Internet for remote learning.

The district switched to remote learning Tuesday after the Jackson County Health Department told 20 staff members, mostly bus drivers, to quarantine after coming into contact with a co-worker infected with COVID-19.

However, school buses will still be seen throughout Jackson.

JPS installed WiFi on all 52 of its school buses, many of which are parked in neighborhoods during the school day.

“We realized that reliable internet is difficult for many families to reach,” said Erin Slater, JPS parent liaison.

JPS spent about $65,000 to put the WiFi hotspots on all of its buses to make it easier for students to connect online. It was included in the district’s back to learning plan when administrators chose the hybrid learning model.

Students who chose in-person learning are only in the building two days a week and learning online three days a week.

“It was important for us to be able to give every opportunity to students in a more equitable fashion,” said Slater.

The buses are parked at various stops across Jackson where students can connect their district issued devices. The WiFi name and password is displayed in the window.

“Our students miss school. They want to be learning. I feel like they are going to do whatever it takes to stay caught up with their work,” said Kristy Dillon, JPS parent liaison.

Dillon said the WiFi bus stops work well for families with more than one student.

“Say you have three kids trying to do homework. Some of your WiFi at home can’t support that many devices,” she said.

No one was using the buses at the 10 spots News 10 stopped at Tuesday. However, the district said it tracks each bus' data usage, and they use about 4Gs of data a day.

“I do know some of our families are so thankful to have it out here in the community,” Dillon said.

Buses are parked from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday at the following locations. From October 20-23, buses will be parked from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Hallet and Backus Streets
  • Pleasant and Pringle
  • Commons and Ruckbury
  • Blair Park Apartments
  • Community Action Agency
  • 1500 block of Milwaukee Street
  • Interfaith Shelter
  • East Franklin and Warwick Court
  • Blackstone and Moorman
  • King Recreation Center
  • Nixon Skate Park
  • Loomis Park
  • 2200 block of Brooklyn Road

Buses will also be parked at each school building October 20-23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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