Athens City School District Gives Hotspots To Students

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – As students continue to transition into online learning, Athens City School District (ACSD) has spent $96,000 on mobile hotspots to make that transition happen.

Superintendent Tom Gibbs said the major chunk of the total expense on mobile hotspots came from federal funding.

“It’s about $96,000 in expense, and about $80000 of it will come from title funds and $16,000 we’ll pick up locally from our general fund budget,” he said.

Since the extension of the “stay-at-home” order  in the state of Ohio closed face-to-face instruction, the school district, like others around the country, is doing what it can to make home internet accessible to every student.

The district distributed 1800 laptops weeks ago but, through a survey, found 16% of the district’s students did not have access to the internet at home. The 260 mobile hotspots the district is providing to families is expected to cover nearly 400 students in need.

The mobile hotspot distribution began after Easter, Gibbs said all students would be able to access online course material soon.

“We are hoping to have these all in homes by the end of this week,” he said.

Mobile hotspots’ consignment received at Athens High School. [Picture Courtesy: Athens City School District]
The school district hoped to distribute the mobile hotspots by April 1 but shipping issues delayed in the order. Most of the students with home internet have been learning from home for weeks. For the ones missing out on home internet, ACSD has provided free wifi zones at various school parking lots.

Ohio University’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) is providing tech support for ACSD students and instructors.

All devices owned by the school district will be automatically directed through its cloud-based internet content filters. This would avoid students getting exposed to any inappropriate content; however, Gibbs said that adult or parental supervision is recommended as child-filters are not 100% effective.

Students will be able to keep the hotspots for an academic year.