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Caldwell County School System expands its reach to families by providing internet connection through yellow school buses doubling as hotspots in a Google-supported initiative to assist students in virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “We have used both digital and non-digital means to continue education during school closure,” said Superintendent Dr. Donald Phipps. “The concept of using our school buses as hotspots allows us to increase the number of students connected to online resources and learning platforms. Each and every day more and more of our students will be participating in remote learning.”

In this new initiative referred to as the Rolling Hotspots, Google outfitted 31 yellow school buses with W-Fi capability to engage students in virtual lessons and educational enrichment. The school district worked with Google, in partnership with the Education Foundation Inc. of Caldwell County, to expand the Rolling Study Hall program implemented in 2016, when Google installed Wi-Fi on 11 school buses to provide homework assistance for students traveling to and from school on the bus.

"Google is excited to work with Caldwell County's able educators and leaders to quickly turn our Rolling Studies Hall program into hotspots that will enable more kids to engage in school work during the stay-home period. We're all about connection, and the ties that make Caldwell County a community we're proud to call home," said Lilyn Hester, Head of External Affairs - Southeast, Google.

The Rolling Hotspots will be strategically placed throughout the county starting Monday, especially in areas that lack reliable internet connectivity.

“They’re mobile,” said Ben Willis, Director of the Education Foundation, “and we can look at the data and determine if they’re being used effectively. If not, we can place them wherever the greatest need is and where they will be most utilized.”

Currently, the hotspots will be located on Caldwell County Schools' campuses as well as the Granite Falls Recreation Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Sawmills Town Hall and in downtown Lenoir near the JE Broyhill Park. At each hotspot, the internet connection is ccs_buswifi and the password is ccsbuswifi. The Wi-Fi signal will extend around 400 feet, creating a mesh network so students can gain internet access without boarding the bus.