Bringing internet access to every student

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wheaton, T-Mobile to provide better learning opportunities

This year, more than ever before, school districts, students, teachers and parents have all learned the pros and cons of virtual learning.

A necessity to virtual classrooms is the ability to access the internet.

T-Mobile has offered students in the Wheaton school district a better opportunity to this access for those who need it with the access to 50 Franklin T9 hotspot devices with 100 GB of data per year through the T-Mobile Project 10Million.

Jordan McFall, Wheaton elementary principal, said the project aims to provide internet hotspots to families who do not have access to the internet at home.

“At first, the project was developed by T-Mobile to bridge the homework gap, so students could finish homework from the school day,” she said. “With the pandemic this year, this project has become even more important and the need is greater with more students being virtual.”

Wheaton reached out to T-Mobile after learning about the project from a school in its conference.

“This means that we will have 50 hotspots available for students to take and work from home,” McFall said. “We have several families who do not have internet access at home. With this project, we can meet the needs of those students and keep them engaged and learning if they have to go virtual.”

Students can also use these hotspots for homework when needed. 

“Students and families will be chosen for the hotspots based on if they have internet access at home,” she said. “The hotspots should be available early second semester.”

The 100 GB of free data per year will be offered to the district for five years.

With 100 GB of data, a students has access to 140 hours of streaming school videos, 320 hours of online virtual learning, 5,000 hours of internet research or 200 hours of online college test prep.

According to T-Mobile, 100 GB of data is three times the amount of data they had seen used by students at the start of the pandemic.

Schools are eligible for the program based on enrollment in the National School Lunch Program.

Hotspots will be allocated one per household, and the districts will identify those needs. Additionally, the number of hotspots allocated per state will be determined by population.

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