By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – Students at Woodville ISD now have the opportunity to use the Internet free of charge. WISD sent a letter home with students outlining the particulars of the service, along with a form for each student’s use. The district also published the letter and form to its website.
The service is being provided through a grant awarded to WISD through T-Mobile’s EmpowerED program. The grant, which was awarded in April and announced by former superintendent Glen Conner allows all WISD students to have WiFi access as well as a device with which to take advantage of the service.
EmpowerED will pay for the service, devices and will provide the district some extra funds to purchase additional devices, all at no cost to WISD.
The EmpowerED program aims to provide school-age children with reliable access to the internet in school and at home. “We believe mobile access holds the power to close the ‘homework gap’ by giving students the tools they need to plug in to 21st century learning and opportunity at any time, from anywhere,” the EmpowerED website states.
WISD is offering one mobile hotspot for every two siblings living in the same household. “Parents must designate which student(s) will be responsible for the hotspot. WISD is fully aware that all areas in Woodville and surrounding areas may not receive a strong signal and service may be limited,” the letter sent on Monday states.
With rural WiFi connectivity occasionally limited, the district reminds parents and students that the service can be used while on the go, and that the hotspots will not replace Internet connectivity on each WISD campus, so it is unnecessary for students to bring the hotspot device to school each day.
The hotspots are loaned to students through the district and parents must sign the permission slip accompanying the letter before each student receives a hotspot. The district is also conducting a check-in once per six weeks, and all the devices must be returned at the end of the school year, in the original box.
The form also states that there is a charge and/or find for lost or damaged items. All content that is accessed through the hotspots is filtered using a Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliant web filter.
Applications for the EmpowerED program can be downloaded through T-Mobile For Education through its website located at https://www.t-mobile.com/business/education/empowered2 .
“[I]nternet access is so critical to a modern education, we can help level the playing field by providing wireless devices and service plans for K-12 students in eligible schools,” the site states.