As more school districts become equipped to conduct virtual learning, more students will need access to high-speed internet. The millions of dollars in hotspots most school districts dished out last year were only good for a year.
Now, many schools are right back where they started in needing to get students connected.
Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs are working to erect cell towers across North Texas that will beam out high-speed internet access to their students.
"We're still running with that technology, still piloting our private cellular network, we're still up and running at six to seven sites today," Dallas ISD Chief Information Officer Jack Kelanic said.
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The need for Wi-Fi is right now and districts across Texas have a new program in which Spectrum and AT&T will go to the homes of students in need and connect high-speed internet free of charge. Federal money will pay the bill.
"We had over 40,000 families that were connected that way through the last school year," Kelanic said. "We've estimated somewhere in the same ballpark here that would take advantage of this program."
The program is another temporary measure to get students through this school year while districts work to come up with more long-term plans to keep students connected to campus -- or in the case of some other disaster that keeps them out of the building.
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Dallas ISD has six cell towers up and running, Castleberry ISD's whole district is plugged in, and Fort Worth ISD is designing its plan.
In the meantime, high-speed internet for all is there, for a year. More than 90% of districts are participating.
There are income restrictions for the program, but many districts said they would provide help even if students don't qualify and still need assistance getting connected.