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The sight became familiar across Texas after the coronavirus pandemic abruptly closed schools last spring — empty school buses rigged with Wi-Fi routers sat in parking lots and neighborhoods, allowing students to tap into free internet to do their schoolwork.
But with more students returning to in-person classes, some school districts now need to get those buses back on the road while still figuring out how to provide internet access to families needing it.
The Austin Independent School District has been deploying 261 Wi-Fi-equipped buses across 40 neighborhoods with little or no home internet access, said Eduardo Villa, a district spokesperson. Drivers not needed to haul loads of students to school and away sports events stationed their buses as internet access points on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, said Kris Hafezizadeh, the district’s executive director of transportation.