GLOUCESTER Co., Va. – What normally shuttles students to school is now helping signal their studies.
“As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to rethink how we provide educational opportunities for all students,” said Superintendent for Gloucester County Public Schools Dr. Walter Clemons.
In this case, that means turning transportation into technology. For the past month or so, Gloucester County Public Schools has been operating the WiFi on Wheels program. The district installed a 5G wireless router on a school bus, which travels from neighborhood to neighborhood where internet connection is the weakest.
“We scheduled ‘stop areas’ so the bus will go to an area, stop there for about two hours and then move to the next location,” said Transportation Coordinator Mitchel Thompson.
The transportation department was already privy to areas that were underserved. When the pandemic first hit, they were providing rides to internet cafés for families who couldn’t access the internet.
When the WiFi on Wheels is out in a neighborhood, Director of Information Technology Scott Mecca said it can reach homes nearly 400 yards away.
“We actually have external antennas about as big as we could get for this frequency of radio, and so these antennas have been placed by our antenna system that’s on the top of the bus,” he said.
You will know if the bus is nearby because “SmartBus” will appear as a WiFi option. Students are