LAURINBURG — With two weeks until the 2018-19 school year begins, Scotland County Schools will add another way to help bridge the gap left by some students unable to access WiFi.
That lack of Internet has created a challenging gap between students who have access and students who do not, and has sparked school district officials to find a workable solution.
Recently the schools were awarded a $100,000 grant from a partnership with T-Mobile to purchase hotspots for students at the schools. Around 500 hotspots will be purchased with the grant and they will be offered at a reduced cost to students.
According to Scotland County Schools Public Information Officer Meredith Bounds, how the hotspots are taken out by students is still being worked on. She added there will likely be an application process for students in order to be eligible for the hotspots.
“We know that we have many students here that have limited and no access to the internet,” Bounds said. “There are some areas in the community that do not have access and that’s a concern as technology grows and the world grows.”
Besides the hotspots, the schools have extended the hours so students can use the media centers before and after school to work on projects or homework. There are also buses that offer WiFi for students to continue work while they’re on the buses.
Last year the high school received Google Chromebooks and, for this school year, grades three through 12 will all have a Chromebook. Bounds said the Chromebook was chosen because of its ability to allow students to continue to work even if it isn’t connected to WiFi.
The Chromebooks will also help any teachers as they begin a digital integration skill set by incorporating technology in the classroom to help amplify the learning of the students.
“We’ve already done some things to help with the problem of limited Internet access here in our community,” Bounds said. “But we’re excited about this grant and the possibility to close that gap even more. As the school starts, we’ll be rolling out more information about how students can check out these devices and how they can utilize those in their homes.”
Since the district is requiring clear book bags this year, students will be provided with padded cases to protect the Chromebooks, since the bags offer less protection for the technology.
Katelin Gandee can be reached at 910-506-3171 or [email protected]