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 Original article can be found at Press-Republican.

McKenzie Delisle; April 11, 2020

BEEKMANTOWN — When Peru Central School District asked to borrow a few WiFi-equipped buses, Beekmantown Superintendent Dan Mannix said it was a no brainer. 

"All of our buses, with the exception of some for food delivery, were sitting idle," Mannix said, adding that Peru Central School District Superintendent Tom Palmer knew the sister district's fleet had wireless internet capabilities. 

"He called and asked for some, and then we delivered; we literally delivered." 

EXPANDING LEARNING TIME

Five years ago, Beekmantown Central School District, with support from some grant monies, had started equipping all of its buses with WiFi, powered by wireless provider Kajeet.

"We wanted to help expand learning time to and from school, as well as to sporting events and so on," Mannix said.

"Now our students know how to link up and use the resource." 

AT-HOME LEARNING

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across the state and nation have transitioned to at-home, distance learning models. 

For students without internet accessibility at home, Beekmantown Central has provided mobile WiFi hotspots. 

On Friday morning, school officials posted to the district's Facebook page, noting that "dozens of district households have been able to connect to the internet during this crisis thanks to these hotspot devices."  

TESTING SIGNALS

It was the Beekmantown superintendent's understanding that Peru Central would use the mobile data centers to rotate throughout different sections of the community, offering internet access to their students in need. 

Though Mannix wasn't sure just how wide the WiFi radius was, he knew, firsthand, that students could connect devices without stepping foot on the bus. 

"We went and tested some of the areas that (Palmer) wanted the buses to go," Mannix said. "There are some places you can't, no matter what you do, get WiFi.

The buses work when you can have a signal penetrate an area, so now they know which areas in Peru will work and which areas in Peru won't work."

'WHAT THEY NEED'

The Eagles loaned Peru Central three buses so far.

"We think that will be enough," Mannix said, "but we'll look at the data usage and see what they need."

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