Nyssa School District program will keep kids logged in

NYSSA – Within the month, students in Nyssa will be able to continue their online studies at home even if parents can’t afford internet.

After a year of planning and coordinating, the Nyssa School District is close to rolling out citywide access to the district’s internet on students’ laptops. 

The access will be limited to handheld Chromebooks students receive from the district and all firewalls and protection used during school hours will be kept in place for home use. Students will not be able to access inappropriate sites or use social media.

“We are finishing up placing the district’s hot spots on telephone poles throughout the city,” said Ryan Hawkins, director of district operations. “We are a couple weeks away from completion.”

The process has not been without some problems and solutions from others in Nyssa. 

Since most homes are single story, hot spots to push the signal were needed in higher elevations. The district partnered with Nyssa churches and other businesses to ensure the signal could reach homes. It also coordinated with Idaho Power to place hot spots on poles.

Once turned on, students will have the same internet restrictions at home as they do in the classroom.

“The signal will still go through the district’s filters,” Hawkins said. “For a lot of our student population, the homes don’t have internet access due to cost. Parents continued to tell us their children could not study online at home due to the cost of internet. We needed to figure out a way to overcome that barrier.”

Students frequently use programs like Accelerated Reader or math programs in the school and now will be able to use these at home.

The cost of the system is largely paid for with a grant the district received. The district needed to pay $300 per pole to local electricians, a stumbling block for Hawkins.

“All the electricians have been swamped and it has been difficult finding a company that can install the hot spots,” he said.

Once up and operating, Hawkins said there would be no reoccurring costs.

The district now has enough Chromebooks so every high school and middle school student can take one home. For elementary students, Chromebooks are available in the classroom. 

The district is planning to allow parent access to the internet as well.

“We want parents to be able to send and receive emails from the district and to be more proactive,” Hawkins said. “We want to be able to have that up and running soon.”

Similar systems are in place, but in much larger cities than Nyssa. The district is already receiving calls from larger districts with questions.

“We are one of the first cities to do this and it is cool this little town in Malheur County is able to do this,” said Hawkins. “This is not just about the district, but about the entire community.”

Reporter John L. Braese: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.