School board passes bid for internet hotspots

The Dodge City Daily Globe

The Dodge City Unified School District 443 Board of Education held a special meeting on Aug. 5, where it passed a motion unanimously, 6-0, to purchase mobile internet hotspots at the amount of $405,000 for the 2020-21 school year.

These mobile hotspots’ purpose is to ensure an internet connection for families who have issues connecting to the internet, especially those who have opted for remote learning from home for their child.

“When we have taken surveys with our families and with what we experienced last year when we closed down, we identified between 30 and 35 percent of our families do not have access to internet,” public information officer Kerri Baker said. “So, if there were a situation where we were to shut down again, that makes it very difficult to just switch over to online learning when we have so many families that would not be able to do that.”

The purchase and installation of these hotspots is going to be done in phases, so that USD 443 is only paying for what it needs.

The first phase is an order of 200 mobile hotspot devices, while the second phase, should the need arise, is the purchase of additional devices.

The overall bill for these hotspots is divided into two different prices, one for the hotspots themselves and another for a subscription to use them.

According to Baker, USD 443 has partnered with United Wireless, who made the bid, and are exploring how to manage the system.

These hotspots would only be turned on during the school day before being turned off, as they are meant to be an education tool and not a free internet service.

As details are still being worked out, remote learning students will still follow the same curriculum as their in-classroom schoolmates, even if that means possibly being taught by a different teacher exclusively through the remote learning module.

It is still being determined how to identify who will need these hotspots.