School district helps families gain Wi-Fi connection, as education moves online

More than 200 families in Nyssa now have Wi-Fi – a result of a recent project by the Nyssa School District to remove educational obstacles as schools shifted to online classes.

With the closure of schools nationwide, students have been taking classes virtually through Zoom since March. The Nyssa district soon began to see some of the challenges that students faced without Wi-Fi.

“Some of the students thought they could make do with what they had on just their personal phone hotspots,” said Ryan Hawkins, assistant superintendent of the Nyssa School District. “But they were finding that with the Zoom calls that they needed more so we were able to actually get Wi-Fi access to those families.”

The school district paid for Wi-Fi services through Sparklight and hotspots through T-Mobile. Hawkins explained the costs.

“The Sparklight Wi-Fi is $10, with a $5 rental. So, it’s $15 per family. And then with the mobile hotspots with T-Mobile, the actual hotspot itself is free. And it’s $5 a month.”

“This process is just the way that our community has stepped up to help teachers,” Hawkins added.

In mid-March, the school district got to planning the distribution of the internet services.

“When we got [the hotspots] there were still about 300,000 schools still on the waiting list and so we’re able to get bumped up the list and get that available for our families.”

Nyssa is a one-to-one school district, meaning that every student receives a Chromebook for educational use during the school year. The school district recognized the importance of providing students the resources they need to excel academically.

“What we want to do is take away as many barriers as possible in this situation. We’re going to find any way we can get learning to kids,” Hawkins said. “What we want to do is offer some family support over the summer if possible, and maybe even some families might need it in for next year.”

Jennifer Adams is a student at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and produced this story for the Enterprise as part of her coursework.

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