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Shenandoah County Public Schools partners with community to create public hot spot

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Students in Shenandoah County will be headed back to class virtually on Aug. 31, and the school division is making sure to keep families and students connected in many ways.

A new idea already taken shape involves a 3-foot wide metal box with a solar panel on top that will be able to provide free Wi-Fi to anyone within 200 feet of it.

David Hinegardner, assistant superintendent of administrative and strategic planning, said the division got the idea to create their own hot spot community connectors from a similar project at Lousia County Public Schools.

“Our technology department along with a couple of teachers from our triple tech department put all the pieces in the shop and make it work,” Hinegardner said.

So far, with help from community partners like Woodstock Rotary Club and True Solar, the division has made one connecting device located outside the Shenandoah County Government building.

Another device is currently being made and Hinegardner said they hope to be able to put out multiple across the county in large shopping areas.

“So if a parent needs to go shopping the student will be able to come along and bring their Chromebook,” Hinegardner said. “Then a student can upload and download their school work.”

The internet device can connect to other devices not just issued by the school division.

Hinegardner said the division has also been working with businesses throughout the county to advertise their Wi-Fi capabilities for families.

Shentel a high-speed internet provider in the county has told the division that they are able to get internet into every home for every child.

“We have worked with them to identify homes that do not have access and Shentel is working out a solution for them,” Hinegardner said.

CARES Act funding will be used to help offset the costs for service.

“We reached out to some community agencies and they reached out to us as well so it’s a terrific partnership,” Hinegardner said. “It’s a great example of the community coming together to support public education and really support our kids.”

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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