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WCSD deploying networking devices to help with distance learning

Kajeet SmartBus Access Device
Kajeet SmartBus Access Device(Washoe County School District)
Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 12:21 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Washoe County School District said it’s working to provide Wi-Fi to students to help with hybrid and distance learning.

The district is deploying SmartBus networking devices to 10 locations throughout the community. It will also be available to students who are riding school buses for long periods of time.

“We recognize that connectivity is a challenge for many of our families that do not have Wi-Fi capability in their homes, and we are pleased to provide these tools to them and their students,” said WCSD Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill.

McNeill said they have distributed 3,000 mobile hotspot devices to schools and will continue to distribute more as they receive them from suppliers.

“One of our significant equity challenges is connectivity, and we’re working to ensure that all of our students have remote access to their hybrid or distance learning opportunities,” said WCSD Chief Information Officer Dr. Chris Turner. “Providing location- and schedule-specific Wi-Fi to neighborhoods and adding SmartBus connectivity for our students that have long bus commutes can both be critical supports to their education.”

SmartBus Access devices can be accessed by families with the password “smartbus.”

Despite the fact that the device is called a “SmartBus," WCSD does not park school buses in neighborhoods that are outfitted with the devices. District vehicles are used instead, and this one is parked at the Neil Road Community Center.
Despite the fact that the device is called a “SmartBus," WCSD does not park school buses in neighborhoods that are outfitted with the devices. District vehicles are used instead, and this one is parked at the Neil Road Community Center.(Washoe County School District)

The district said the devices are especially helpful on days when in-person learning is canceled due to unhealthy air quality, as we’ve seen over recent weeks.

“These devices help support our students who are learning from home in the hybrid schedule, in distance learning, and on days when the air quality makes it unsafe for them to attend school,” said Dr. Turner. “We are happy to provide this service to support their learning and look forward to expanding our services in the near future.”

Below is a list of the locations where WCSD is providing connectivity support: 

Ongoing: Three SmartBus units have been deployed to the following secured office locations:

  • Hungry Valley Community Center, 9070 Eagle Canyon Drive, Patrick
  • Sutcliffe Marina, 2500 Sutcliff Loop Road, Reno
  • Reno Housing Authority’s Homeless Shelter, 480 Galletti Way, Sparks

Daily: Beginning Tuesday and continuing every weekday between 7 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., these are the locations for the daily SmartBus deployments:

  • California Building/Idlewild Park, 75 Cowan Drive
  • Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center, 1301 Valley Road
  • Neil Road Recreation Center, 3925 Neil Road - Central Yard
  • North Valleys Regional Park, 8085 Silver Lake Road – North Yard
  • Paradise Park Activity Center, 2745 Elementary Drive - Central Yard
  • Plumas Gym, 475 Monroe Street
  • Sun Valley Community Center, 115 West 6th Avenue – North Yard

Bus Routes: In consultation with the Transportation Department and using criteria of identified need and extended bus ride duration, we have outfitted buses 2026, 1515, 1514, 1521, 2024, 7023, 8031, 1619, 7020, 1205, 1615, 1202, 1604, 1613, 5123 with SmartBus units.

Bus routes
Bus routes(Washoe County School District)

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