STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) — In Staunton, students without internet at home will soon be able to get free hotspots for the year. Thanks to T-Mobile, students will be able to rent an internet hotspot for free from their school libraries and take it home for a school year.
The school’s technology division is also helping parents connect by giving about 300 Chromebooks to families who don’t have anything at home.
"Between the mobile hotspots that we’re getting from T-Mobile and giving these devices to families, that, with these two kinds of approaches at the same time, we can completely bridge the digital divide in Staunton City Schools,” Superintendent Dr. Garett Smith said.
T-Mobile is also giving $26,000 to Staunton City Schools Equity First Fund.
The gift is called the T-Mobile Empowered Award, and is valued at about $40,000 to provide the hotspot equipment and internet connectivity to give students a better chance to complete school work with internet access.
T-Mobile leased hotspots to the Staunton school district for several years in the past, but the new contribution increases their hotspot inventory by 200 units and made them all free, plus added the ability for students to check one out for an entire school year.
“We conducted a recent survey which revealed that approximately 10 percent of SCS families do not have internet connectivity at home,” said Tom Lundquist, director of technology for Staunton City Schools. “Our goal is to ensure that every student and parent who needs access to technology receives it, and remove barriers to student success by ensuring each family has the digital tools they need for a modern-day education. We’re excited to achieve that goal thanks to the contributions from T-Mobile.”
Right now, students can check one out for two weeks max, with teacher input and parental approval.
The new system is expected to be set up in the coming months.
T-Mobile says anonymous donors helped launched the Equity First Fund with $105,000 in contributions late last year.