The Calcasieu Parish School Board deployed 12 "CPSB Smart Buses" on Monday to provide free, filtered wifi to students for educational purposes. The buses will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., parked at schools and marked with a "Smart Bus" banner.
In order to adhere to social distancing protocols, visitors are to remain inside their parked vehicle while using the network "Kajeet Smart Bus." The password is "smartbus."
"All you need to do to have access is to park 150 feet from the bus and you should be able to pick up the signal. No one will be able to go in the buses," Kim LeBlanc, CPSB chief technology officer, said.
Content will be filtered just like it is in the school system, she said, so Netflix and Facebook will be inaccessible. Blackboard sites, LearnZillion and the district's curated collection of digital resources will be available.
"We really want to give our students access to the things they need to continue learning," LeBlanc said.
The buses will be located in strategic areas of high need, she said, based on a district-wide survey administered in the fall.
"We know that we have areas of need. We're going to try to use the bus as one solution."
The Kajeet system has "exceptional monitoring" capabilities, LeBlanc said, so depending on usage, they may relocate. The CPSB website will keep an updated schedule of locations, Holly Holland, spokeswoman for the district, said.
Pam Nicholson, technology coordinator, said utilizing the smart buses during stay-at-home orders is only the beginning of their potential.
"We have the vision. We're not going to take the buses away once this ends. We're going to meet the needs on an ongoing basis from here on out," she said.
Because the district's activity buses have been outfitted with the "smart" capabilities wifi will be accessible for field trips and athletic events. "They will definitely engage and enrich those experiences," LeBlanc said. "It's a long-term solution. We're not going to stop it."
The Smart Buses will be parked in the following locations:
Barbe Elementary School
Bell City High School
Combre-Fondel Elementary School
DeQuincy Middle School
Gillis Elementary School
LaGrange High School
LeBleu Settlement Elementary School
Starks High School
Vincent Settlement Elementary School
Vinton Elementary School
Washington-Marion High School
Western Heights Elementary School