Installment begins to get WiFi on every Shenandoah County school bus

WiFi equipment gets installed on Shenandoah County school buses, Dec. 1
WiFi equipment gets installed on Shenandoah County school buses, Dec. 1(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:48 AM EST
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Upgrades began Wednesday afternoon to Shenandoah County Public School buses in an effort to keep students more connected.

By mid-December, all 114 Shenandoah County Public Schools buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi.

Doug Culler, the Director of Network Services for SCPS, said students can spend anywhere from five minutes to one hour on the school bus every day.

“The kids that are on for an hour, it could definitely impact them,” Culler said. “They could utilize that time to get some homework done before they get home.”

It will also allow students who travel on buses for field trips, athletics, or other extracurricular activities to complete work as they travel.

This is all thanks to the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program. SCPS was awarded nearly $400,000 in funding for the initiative, which covers the equipment, installation, and one year of internet service for each bus.

“We just turned in our budget request, so I did a request for funding to continue this,” Culler said. “Obviously, we will evaluate this through the second half of the school year to see how much it’s utilized and if it is benefiting the students.”

Culler said it will cost between $400 and $500 per bus for the school year in the future.

“When you think about it, 10 months, $400. That’s $40 a month. That’s not very expensive for internet service,” he said.

When new buses are purchased, this equipment can be included from the factory, according to a press release from SCPS.

The wireless network will mirror the school’s network, so students’ Chromebooks will connect automatically and the internet will be filtered to block inappropriate content.

The FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund is a $7.17 billion program that is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and helps schools and libraries close the gap for students who currently lack necessary Internet access or devices they need to connect.

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