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School Buses Repurposed as Wi-Fi Networks for Students

Comal ISD Safety Training Supervisor Cheryl Lessing shows off one of the seven buses ready to provide Wi-Fi connections to students throughout the district who lack internet access.

Students can now catch a virtual bus to Comal ISD classrooms.

The district has equipped school buses with wireless network devices and parked them at seven strategic locations throughout the district’s 589 square miles to provide internet access for students without it.

To see a map of locations, along with addresses, click here. Two are in the Canyon Lake area.

In a press release Tuesday, Comal ISD said the deployment supports online learning for students through Comal Continues: Home Learning Opportunities/ Residence Learning Program,

Seven Wi-Fi buses will broadcast a signal within 100 yards, the distance of a football field, and will be parked at designated locations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday until the last day of the school year, May 28. If students are within the 100-yard range, the Bus Wi-Fi network is “ComalISD-HomeLearning” or “ComalISD-HomeLearning5G.”

“To date we have provided nearly 1,900 laptops to families who do not have access to technology in their homes through our Technology Checkout Program,” says Travis Brown, the district’s technology chief information officer. “We believe that this is just one more opportunity to provide our students with the tools they need to participate in the District’s Residence Learning Program.

The initiative was made possible by a $7,000 grant from the Comal Education Foundation.

“We are happy to see the program ‘rolling’ out to communities across Comal ISD, connecting teachers, students and families in a way that is sure to have a lasting impact,” said Chris Narendorf, president of the foundation.

Comal ISD also has offered families discounted rates through local internet providers as well as through MiFi devices. As of Friday, April 17, Comal ISD provided 124 MiFi devices to students.

Families in need of either a laptop or MiFi device can contact the District’s Technology Checkout Program at 830-221-2690.

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