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
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Multiple programs at the Lenoir Housing Authority have provided residents with devices and more access to the internet in recent months, and a new support program can help students take full advantage of those resources.
In April, the housing authority partnered with Caldwell County Schools to provide students living in LHA neighborhoods with Chromebooks, which were bought using coronavirus relief money. Building on that partnership, LHA recently joined the school system in purchasing 20 Kajeet Wi-Fi hotspots for students.
Internet access was always a smaller problem than distributing learning devices. While 70 percent of New Haven students did not have a laptop or tablet at home at the start of the pandemic, around 15 percent did not have internet. To help that remaining group, the district has distributed 1,200 Kajeet hotspot devices (which connect to phone carriers) and connected families with an income-qualifying internet service through Comcast. The district has built WiFi hubs on top of public schools to beam internet into neighboring blocks of houses.
Telehealth is here to stay, and it’s dramatically changing the healthcare landscape. But can be no telehealth, no virtual visits, and no remote patient monitoring without reliable, secure connectivity – and that’s not something to take for granted.
On today’s HIMSSCast, host Jonah Comstock talks to Kajeet’s Director of Strategy, Dominic Marcellino, about some of the different roadblocks to secure, reliable connectivity and how to approach tackling them.
This episode was created in collaboration with sponsor Kajeet.
McLean Tech Company Donates WiFi Spots to Families — “To help provide equitable access to today’s digital curriculum through safe and reliable embedded internet connectivity, Kajeet and [Amazon Web Services] teamed up to donate Kajeet SmartSpots – controlled WiFi hotspots – with unlimited data plans to GOODProjects, which were distributed to 30 local families in need.”
The state also helped districts purchase nearly 13,000 internet hotspots from the company Kajeet, which plug into laptops and provide on-the-go internet access, specifically for students who may be between housing, live at multiple addresses in a given week or have long commutes between school and home.
“The broadband needs to follow the kid,” Casey says. “We really directed districts to provide those cellular hotspots to kids who had a lot of mobility needs.”
The state, of course, did not work alone. To identify students in need, districts surveyed their communities and asked teachers which of their students lacked computers or stable internet. The state worked with districts to ship out devices and offered vouchers for internet service that districts could distribute directly to students. “From the state side, that promise has been fulfilled,” Simmons says.
Although the wealth disparities between these districts affect the size of their digital equity gap, each district assessed the problem similarly. They all produced surveys to gather information on the digital equity gap in their respective districts, as well as having families fill out direct request forms listing their needs. Each school district then distributed Chromebooks or Kajeet hot spots—a Wi-Fi hot spot with a filter to prevent from accessing non-school related information—based on those needs.
Lucretia Brown, ASD’s deputy superintendent of equity, accountability and school improvement, said Allentown has fulfilled every request for a device or Wi-Fi hot spot thus far.
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.
“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.
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.
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