STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - In Staunton, students without internet at home are getting free hotspots for the year. Thanks to T-Mobile, students will soon be able to rent an internet hotspot for free from their school libraries.
The school’s technology division is also helping parents connect by giving about 300 Chromebooks to families who don’t have anything at home.
"Between the mobile hotspots that we’re getting from T-Mobile and giving these devices to families that with these two kinds of approaches at the same time we can completely bridge the digital divide in Staunton City Schools,” Superintendent Dr. Garett Smith said.
T-Mobile is also giving $26,000 to Staunton City Schools Equity First Fund.
Staunton City Schools Press Release:
JANUARY 13, 2020 — Students in Staunton City Schools (SCS) who don’t have internet access at home will soon have an opportunity to get it thanks to T-Mobile.
SCS is the recipient of the T-Mobile Empowered Award, which provides T-Mobile hotspot equipment and internet connectivity—valued at $40,000—for students who need internet access at home to complete school work.
The award follows a multi-year program with SCS during which T-Mobile leased hotspots to the school division for families in need. The new contribution increases SCS’ hotspot inventory by 200 units for a total of
400 available units, is free to students and allows a student to check out a hotspot for an entire school year.
Currently, a student can check out a hotspot for up to two weeks with teacher input and parental approval. T-
Mobile has indicated that the hotspots may become free to the school division in the coming months.
In addition to the Empowered Award, T-Mobile is giving SCS $26,000, which will be added to the school division’s recently established Equity First Fund. Anonymous donors helped SCS launch an Equity First Fund late last year with $105,000 in contributions to support new and existing initiatives promoting equity, inclusion, and diversity in SCS.
“With these generous contributions, our Equity First Fund is off to a roaring start,” said Superintendent Garett Smith. “We’re grateful to T-Mobile for their ongoing support and for helping us to remove barriers to technology for our families. We look forward to increased engagement from our parents and students as a result.”
The school division’s technology department is also helping parents connect and engage in their child’s education by providing those who lack devices at home with refurbished Chromebooks and laptops that are no longer of use to students. The technology department is preparing the refurbished devices now to be offered on a first-come, first-served basis to those in need by March. Participating parents will be able to more easily communicate with their child’s instructional team and access parent portals with grades and other student information to keep up with their child’s education and progress.
“We conducted a recent survey which revealed that approximately 10 percent of SCS families do not have internet connectivity at home,” said Tom Lundquist, director of technology for Staunton City Schools. “Our goal is to ensure that every student and parent who needs access to technology receives it, and remove barriers to student success by ensuring each family has the digital tools they need for a modern-day education. We’re excited to achieve that goal thanks to the contributions from T-Mobile.”