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 Original article can be found at CBS Austin.

Brittany Ford; April 10, 2020

The Austin Independent School District is giving students more access to Wi-Fi at home.

AISD Chief Technology Director Kevin Shwartz says Wi-Fi has been installed on school buses which they've now place in neighborhoods where there's the greatest need. "Kind of like what a person would have at home for internet access. The Wi-Fi coverage in their house, but these are stronger," he said.

The district has rolled out a total of 110 buses at these locations:

North locations:

  • 8800 & 8900 N. IH 35 (Avesta & Capella Apartments)
  • 5701 Johnny Morris Road (Pecan Park Mobile Homes)
  • 7000 Decker Lane (Huntington Meadows Apartments)
  • 1601 E. Anderson Lane (Ashford Costa Esmeralda previously Creekwood Apartments)
  • 1901 E. Anderson Lane (Avesta Apartments)
  • 1044 Norwood Plaza (Paddock at Norwood Apartments)

South locations:

  • 10701 & 10505 S. IH 35 (Onion Creek Apartments & Bridge at Asher Apartments)
  • 1601 E. Slaughter Lane (River Ridge Community)
  • 815 W. Slaughter Lane (Trails at the Park)
  • 8405 Old Bee cave Road (Southwest Trails Apartments)

Mobile Wi-Fi is available at the following schools:

  • Uphaus Early Childhood Center (5200 Freidrich Lane)
  • Metz Elementary (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. Street)

Schwartz says the Wi-Fi ranges around 150 to 350 feet. He says in some locations there may be more than one bus parked. "If we go to an apartment complex, where we've been welcomed, then we may take six or ten or more buses. This will provide a larger coverage area for people to access it," said Shwartz.

District officials say students will not be allowed to physically get on the bus. But each bus will be staffed with personnel to ensure safe practices. "For security reasons, we have a staff member on the bus at all times to help the students about social distancing and if there are any issues that they have," said Kris Hafezizadeh, AISD's transportation executive director.

The district says all of their buses have been equipped with Wi-Fi through a $600,000 grant provided by the Kajeet company.

Shwartz says if there is a need to expand, they're able to do so. "I anticipate we'll make a few changes, and I anticipate that we will expand this somewhat to meet our needs," he said.

Students who live at the locations can access the free Wi-Fi on their school computers, weekdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For technical help call 512-414-9187.

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