Message from the CEO
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to know that we’re doing all we can to help.
We will continue to prioritize the safety of our employees while working tirelessly to support schools, districts, and libraries with our Education Broadband connectivity, making it possible for students across the country to keep learning in safe virtual communities regardless of their economic status or geographical location.
Daniel J.W. Neal,
Kajeet CEO, Chairman, and Founder
The grant, which was allocated by the state Department of Education, will be used to enhance the system’s virtual learning opportunities. Specifically, the funds will be used to purchase 209 Kajeet Smartspots.
A more practical approach led the students to consider the use of mobile WiFi hotspots that could provide connectivity if the district’s system is incapacitated. Their research led them to wireless provider Kajeet Inc., and the students talked with a company sales representative and technology solutions manager about the possibility.
Kajeet’s SmartSpot product, according to the company, offers students “guaranteed access to their school’s online learning materials and instruction through a portable, all-in-one device. Schools can manage devices with data sharing and customizable filters to save on cost without compromising quality or student privacy.”
The largest chunk of the funding, about $200,023, is part of yet another acronym-named program, the Virginia Initiative to Support Internet Outside of School Networks, or VISION. This amount will be used to buy “items such as Kajeet mifis (filtered web access system) for students who do not have internet at home and will help facilitate virtual learning,” schools spokesperson Monica Hatchett said.
The board voted to use some of the transportation CARES funding to enter a one-year agreement for Kajeet Smart Bus Wi-Fi on the buses. It should give students the ability to study on the bus.
“Once we knew that we would start the school year by distance learning, we also knew we would have to provide our students with Chromebooks. We also knew we would have to look at ways to provide them with internet access for them to get online for school.” […] The district utilizes routers provided by Kajeet on 21 school buses. Lyons said the current bus routes are based on student population and location, especially those at apartment complexes and mobile home parks where Wi-Fi will serve the most children at one time.
Purchase of internet connectivity needed for the school system from Kajeet, of Bethseda, Maryland, in the amount of $363,187.41, funded by CARES Act funds. Barr said the system has purchased a total of 1,500 of Kajeet hotspots “at the intervals as required based on updated needs assessments.” He said the approved purchase extended the coverage on devices through June 30, 2021. Parents assume responsibility of equipment. No new devices were included in the purchase.
For the next two weeks, students will continue instruction with their teachers through distance learning. Many students have received Kajeet SmartSpots to enable connectivity.
The district utilizes routers provided by Kajeet on 21 school buses. Lyons said the current bus routes are based on student population and location, especially those at apartment complexes and mobile home parks where Wi-Fi will serve the most children at one time.
The reality that millions of Americans, largely in low-income and rural areas, lack access to high-speed internet, has been a growing crisis. But during the pandemic it became an education emergency as students struggled to learn from home.
One option school districts around the country have adopted is turning school buses into Wi-Fi hot spots.
The WiFi hotspots are available for use for individuals struggling to connect to work or school during hybrid/remote learning and work.
The hotspots can be signed out at any library in the three-county footprint (besides Shamokin-Coal Township Public Library). The WiFi hotspots are to be utilized for school and work related access and will restrict access to inappropriate content.
Provided by Kajeet for Education, the WiFi hotspots operate on T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon networks.
Students have also used cell phone hot spots, powered by Kajeet, and other devices that the district has supplied all throughout the city, including in apartment complexes and various neighborhoods.
The schools have seen an uptick recently in students using these devices.
“From a data perspective we can see that they are definitely being used now,” Charles Getz, the community network specialist for Harrisonburg City Schools said. “I’m hearing information back from the childcare facilities that these are working better for them now, so that’s been nice.”
Reed said there are solutions to students without personal internet access. The district has bought KAJEET internet service for those needing internet at home, and the school provides a Chromebook for all students.
“We’re really trying to keep our kids in school,” Reed said. “This is a proactive step to avoid a full school closure. We want to keep them here as much as we possibly can.”
In addition to these web-based resources, BCLS has multiple Kajeet SmartSpot WiFi devices available for checkout. The devices can be checked out for two weeks at a time and “have a daily limit of 5,000 MB and a monthly limit of 30GB.
The buses have been up and running since the start of the school year and the district has been monitoring data usage. […]
According to Simmons, the Wi-Fi has been accessed every single day.
Connectivity extends up to 500 feet away from the bus so most students can access it from inside of their home.
On average up to 2000 megabytes of data is used each day on the district’s network called “Kajeet SmartBus.” […]
“If I have one bus in a community that enables one student to connect and continue his or her learning, then it was worth it.”
In the hill towns of Albany County, the Berne Knox Westerlo Central School District is facing a disconnect between some students and internet access.
“We had about 28-30% of our student population without internet access or with very poor internet access.” Superintendent Dr. Timothy Mundell said. […]
The district also partnered with Capital Region BOCES to send Kajeet hotspot devices home. They work off of cell service. The district purchased about 20 devices.
The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is helping students and families with Wi-Fi connectivity with the use of SmartBus networking devices. These devices will be deployed to 10 locations throughout the community and will also be available to students who are riding school buses for long periods of time traveling to and from school. […]
“One of our significant equity challenges is connectivity, and we’re working to ensure that all of our students have remote access to their hybrid or distance learning opportunities,” said WCSD Chief Information Officer Dr. Chris Turner.
According to Sears, “Many students and even some teachers across our district do not have wifi at home. They have a phone, but that’s not the same as having internet access on your computer. RSD2 has been very proactive in helping our students and staff with this issue. We’ve provided some students and staff with a wifi hotspot device called Kajeets, which are all monitored by the district. Without the Kajeet, many students could not attend the online classes. That’s unacceptable.”
The Clay County library system received a grant this year for $9,000 that allowed them to purchase 25 Kajeet SmartSpot Wi-Fi devices. The devices look like a deck of cards that create standalone Wi-Fi hotspots for users to access so that they can stream videos, surf the web and play games, although its original purpose was more educational. […]
“People need access to computers,” Capps said. “It’s so necessary right now with everything going on and we’re happy that we can provide remote access with the [SmartSpot] devices and with our computers here in our branches.”
Approved increasing data for Kajeet Hotspots, devices offered to families attending school remotely who do not have a dependable internet connection. The renewal price is projected to be $131,460 for all 250 Smartspot devices on the complete unlimited data plan starting August 2021 for academic year 2021-2022.
About Kajeet Solutions
Kajeet has been privileged to help underserved student populations gain equitable access to the Internet for several years. Now, with the COVID-19 outbreak, that mission is more essential than ever.
Our SmartSpot® solution is a filtered Wi-Fi hotspot which, through our partnership with major US Cellular carriers, allows students to access educational content on the Internet. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we’d partnered with over 1000 schools and districts to help close the Homework Gap and improve student achievement.
With many schools switching to online-only curricula for the remainder of the school year and beyond, it is more important than ever to connect these underprivileged students. At Kajeet, we are humbled to be able to assist educators and students in these uncertain times.
We have responded to the need for Education Broadband for remote learning by expanding our Distance Learning Bundles to include flexible service terms and higher data amounts per month. The shortened contract terms will minimize costs to schools and enable them to quickly adjust to conditions as they evolve, while the increased data plan sizes will accommodate heavier student data usage throughout the day.