ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School District is offering free mobile hotspots to district students. It’s part of a move to improve internet access and give students a chance to explore the internet outside of school.
Virtual learning exposed the need for better internet access for students across the Rochester City School District. Students like Latonia Bliss, who spends most nights doing homework online.
“Certain kids in different homes, they don’t have access to wifi and internet when they have to do work. Plus me, sometimes the wifi messes up and I need other ways to do it,” said Latonia Bliss, going into 12th grade.
To address the problem, the district is handing out free mobile hot spots with the goal of distributing the units to 3500 students throughout the district.
“Accessibility varies. It can even vary from month to month but the goal is to ensure that our students, 100% of our students have the opportunity to have constant, reliable internet every day,” said Glen Vanderwater, the chief technology officer for the RCSD.
In the past, the district offered 10GB mobile hot spots for students, but leaders say that was not enough. This time around, the units will have 50GB of data that will refresh every month, for a year. Families can sign up for one hot spot per student, even if there are multiple students in the home.
“This is a safe way for them to do it, as these hot spots are being filtered back through our firewall, blocking inappropriate content and things like social media but allowing students to explore what’s out there on the internet and again enhancing their education,” said Vanderwater.
For parents who are thinking about signing up, the free units provide peace of mind.
“She does a lot of work online and it’s definitely positive that the district is doing this for the kids,” said Tali Bliss, parent of RCSD student.
The district has already started handing out the units at summer schools. Families can sign up for the free hot spots by calling their schools or on the district’s website.