With school in Spotsylvania County set to start in less than three weeks, officials are looking for a way to accommodate students who will be learning virtually over the internet in the challenging world of the pandemic.
But there is a hurdle with online learning: Some students don’t have internet access.
Spotsylvania school officials decided one way to help with that issue is to set up free Wi-Fi hot spots for students. The plan calls for 10 such spots.
“As we prepare for the start of the new school year, we are working to find innovative ways to ensure every student in Spotsylvania County is able to access online learning resources,” schools Superintendent Scott Baker said in a news release last week. “Broadband access is a big issue in Spotsylvania, particularly in the western part of the County.”
The school system received a $17,452 donation from sPower, the company building the 500-megawatt solar facility in western Spotsylvania, to cover half the cost of the Wi-Fi spots. It is looking for funding for the rest.
Baker thanked sPower for the donation, adding that the school system is “hopeful that others in our community will help us meet our goal of 10 units for the school year.”
Spotsylvania schools are scheduled to begin classes Aug. 17, but officials say the first nine weeks will be conducted online through virtual learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
County school officials hope to eventually offer a hybrid model of learning, with students divided into two groups to attend classes two days per week, according to the school system’s plan. One group will attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other group will go on Thursdays and Fridays.
On Wednesdays, all students will do their learning online. Staff will work those days and schools will be cleaned. Spotsylvania parents have the option to enroll their children in either full distance learning or the hybrid model.
Each mobile hotspot will offer internet access for about 20 devices at a time, according to the release. The school system is looking for areas that will allow families to park and access the internet from their vehicles.
Each hotspot unit costs approximately $3,500 for the entire school year, according to the release. Any donation amount will be accepted.
Companies can sponsor a semester for $1,745 or a month for $390. Businesses that donate $3,500 will be able to have their logo included at the mobile hotspot. All donors will be recognized on the Spotsylvania Education Foundation’s website.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436