For several weeks now, Spring Branch ISD has stationed WiFi-equipped school buses at strategic spots across the district – mainly at or near middle and high schools – to provide internet access for SBISD’s students who have either limited or no internet service at home.
The planned effort to provide more internet access began in late April with WiFi-cabled buses stationed either at or near SBISD’s five comprehensive high schools, as well as the community-based Spring Spirit Education Sports Complex, which mostly serves Hollibrook Elementary School and its feeder campuses.
A week later, the district’s technology and transportation teams partnered to add middle school sites to the district’s WiFi-equipped locations for internet access.
The range for the WiFi signal extends about 300 feet around each bus, and up to 60 separate sessions on digital devices can be supported at each location during operating hours. Students can either drive up or walk into the vicinity of the bus between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays.
“We are excited to announce that we now have WiFi-equipped buses stationed at key strategic locations around the district to provide internet access for our students who may have limited or no internet service at home,” SBISD Superintendent Jennifer Blaine announced in a special letter to parents and the general community.
“We know that internet access is a barrier for a number of our families, and we hope this new service proves beneficial as our students continue learning online,” Dr. Blaine also said.
School leaders in turn communicated specifics about locations and hours to their campus communities.
The WiFi-enabled buses are staffed or monitored by a campus technology representative. WiFi access is filtered, meaning that non-district approved sites are blocked.
At this time, the district may continue to deploy the buses until the start of the new school year pending state and local decisions about future school calendars and operations.
SBISD’s Associate Superintendent for Technology, Christina Masick, and Troy Neal, director of IT security and compliance, praised both the district technology and transportation teams for their partnership and planning to meet student access needs.
Spring Spirit’s Kenny Baldwin was also thanked for his openness in allowing the baseball complex to be a community access point.
“As we prepared for the possibility of extended school closures, we knew that an internet connection is a lifeline and learning link for our students,” the district technology leaders said in a statement. “We are committed to providing alternative connections options to help bridge the access gap.”