Approximately two-thirds of Sheldon ISD’s student enrollment take advantage of riding the bus to and from school each day. “That time spent on the bus each year can equate to an additional four weeks of instructional days,” said Director of Technology Brian Martinez. “One of the ways to maximize their learning experience is to provide WiFi on our buses so that learning can take place truly any time anywhere at no added expense to our families.”
Thanks to federal funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, Sheldon ISD has been able to equip a portion of the bus fleet with WIFI. “We want to provide a safe, easy-to-use solution that enables our students to keep learning while they travel, thus bridging the gap from home to school or on a longer extracurricular road trip such as a sports game or UIL event,” Martinez said.
To access the Internet, students simply need to follow the instructions on signs that are posted inside the WIFI buses. Students can safely access sites with compliant filtering built into the network that will block inappropriate sites as well as social media.
Providing equitable access to students at no cost to the school district or families has been the main goal of this pilot project. Sheldon ISD will begin with implementing WIFI on 15 of its buses before eventually adding to the entire fleet, which will of course require more funding.
In addition to the added ease of access while traveling, the district will be able to use the WIFI buses by turning a vacant parking lot into a WIFI hotspot. “This type of situation might come in handy during a crisis as we work toward emergency response and reunification during an emergency,” Martinez explained.