Pictured: Rockdale County Superintndent Dr. Terry Oatts
Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) has been chosen as one of 36 school systems to receive donated mobile hotspots. This donation will help fill the internet connectivity gap for thousands of students across the state, said Schools Superintndent Dr. Terry Oatts,
“As a district, we are honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the WiFiRanger Teton C-19 hotspots, which will enable us to creatively and strategically deploy internet access to select communities utilizing some of our school buses,” said Oatts. “These hotspots will allow us to achieve equitable access for students and families who may ordinarily lack such access. We thank AT&T, the Innovation Fund Foundation, and the Georgia Foundation for Public Education for their recognition of our district’s commitment to affording broad access to our students.”
AT&T’s donation includes two free months of service for each device. Additional grant funding was applied to extend the impact of the initiative to an additional three months of service for each device. Districts have expressed their appreciation for the WiFiRanger hotspots and the five months of service that the donation will make available.
School systems will choose locations for WiFiRanger bus networks, sending them to unserved areas where students do not have access to internet at home. Access information will be communicated directly to their students and families who will be able to access the Wi-Fi by parking nearby or by walking to the WiFiRanger bus location. Parents and students will be directed to follow the state guidelines for social distancing, but they will be able to access the internet signal within a certain distance of the bus. The signal for each bus has a range for connection up to 300 feet – the length of a football field.
Each district will create its own mobilization plans for placing the WiFiRanger hotspots on school buses or other public vehicles to reach the highest numbers of unserved students in their communities. Each WiFiRanger hotspot can enable internet connections for up to 45 devices at one time.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp applauded AT&T for its donation to the school systems.
“AT&T is doing our state a great service, helping us take a step forward to address the lack of available broadband connectivity for Georgia students,” Kemp said. “This issue has come into sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic as so many rural students struggle to continue remote learning without internet access. We thank AT&T for recognizing that the children affected by this lack of connectivity are the young people who represent our future. Their generosity will leave a lasting legacy.”
Venessa Harrison, President of AT&T Georgia, said AT&T recognized Georgia’s need for an innovative digital learning environment.
“We are proud to work with Governor Kemp and the Georgia Department of Education to equip hundreds of school buses with AT&T Wi-Fi, connecting students in communities all across the state,” said Harrison. “More than ever before, connecting people with resources needed to maintain a sense of normalcy is critical, and we are committed to supporting Georgia’s students, families, and teachers.”
State School Superintendent Richard Woods thanked AT&T for its partnership.
“In difficult times, Georgians are coming together to support public schools and students,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “I wish to thank our industry partners for their generosity and commitment to Georgia’s kids, and the Georgia Foundation for Public Education, Innovation Fund Foundation, and Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for their partnership as well. Expanding Wi-Fi access will be a powerful support for school districts’ summer learning programs and will ensure a more equitable education system into the new school year.”
“We appreciate the generous support of private and public companies during this time, who are seeking out creative ways to help Georgia,” said Paige Pushkin, Executive Director of the Georgia Foundation for Public Education. “Investments like this one from AT&T not only work to solve immediate challenges as a result of the pandemic, but also provide long term economic development and stability along with an educated and ready workforce. We are happy to work with other corporations looking to make this type of impact statewide.”