Students without adequate internet access won’t be relegated to parking lots after all. Loudoun County Public Schools this week opened three special on-campus “internet cafés.”
After the months-long effort to get Chromebooks into the hands of every student and to distribute more than 1,500 cellular hotspots to the homes of students and teachers who lacked the infrastructure to participate in this fall’s distance learning classes, administrators knew there remained some who just wouldn’t be able to make the connection from their homes.
To meet those needs, the school’s tech team first proposed having the students set up in the parking lots of schools and libraries where the wi-fi networks have been amplified to provide connectivity outside. However, in recent weeks they’ve worked with families and school principals to identify those who lack at-home options—places where the service is so bad even hotspots can’t get a signal. As they were able to narrow the list to about 300 students, they also devised a plan to let them set up in safe spaces inside schools in their area.
With the problems mainly in western Loudoun, the in-school spaces are at Culbert and Round Hill elementary schools and Woodgrove High School. Students up to sixth grade are required to have a parent or guardian present with them.