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Columbus City Schools Secures Internet Hot Spots For Remote Learning

Columbus City Schools District Office.
Nick Evans
Columbus City Schools District Office.

The Columbus Board of Education has approved a $35,000 deal with Verizon to help get local students internet access.

School administrators have scrambled to rebuild the district for online learning after schools were closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Students will remain out of school through May 1, although it's unlikely they'll return before the end of the school year.

Superintendent Talisa Dixon explains Columbus worked with local education nonprofit I Know I Can to obtain about 500 hot spots to ensure students without internet access weren’t left behind

“I Know I Can partnered with the district to get these devices," Dixon says. "And they were able to get them at no cost and donate them to the district, and so our cost would be two months of unlimited data from Verizon.”

Paying for data through the rest of the school year will cost a little more than $70 per device.

Columbus City Schools isn’t just facing an internet access problem. The district also handed out more than 15,000 Chromebooks ahead of launching its virtual learning academy Monday. Dixon says that covers about half the households they serve.

"The goal is to make sure that that barrier of students having access to a device and having access to Wifi that that barrier is removed," Dixon says.

Dixon says they will need more of the hot spots. For the time being, they’re giving priority to high school seniors.

The district is looking for ways to get more devices, but Dixon acknowledged they’re in high demand around the country.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.