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Homework Hotspots Deliver Virtual Learning
Homework Hotspots Deliver Virtual Learning
Posted on 04/22/2020
Technology Specialist Jill Hutson (left) and Technology Team Leader Robert Castro spent Monday and Tuesday at West Buncombe Elementary School, where they connected Homework Hotspots for 14 families who came one at a time to practice social distancing.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Our Homework Hotspot heroes have pushed hard to make sure every student has access to high-speed Internet during BCS Virtual Days online classes.

Since 2017, the BCS Technology Department has teamed up with cellular providers like Sprint/T-Mobile (1 Million Project) and US Cellular and partners like Eblen Charities, AVL Technologies, and Dogwood Health Trust to deliver hundreds of homework hotspots at no cost to our students. Each device allows a student’s school-issued laptop or iPad to connect to a cell network for Internet access. Homework Hotspots are securely connected to the student's 1:1 device, which is content-filtered on and off campus. After the governor ordered all public schools to close for in-person instruction, Technology Services Field Technicians connected more than 500 additional hotspots for students who lack reliable Internet at home. Over 1,200 are now in use across the district.

“The hotspots help students connect to their teachers one on one and feel engaged with the classroom,” said Technology Customer Service Manager Leslie Averill. “The field tech teams are so eager to help the staff and students. All six district field tech teams are now working together as one, and that has been a big blessing to us to get to know each other better.”

School Specialist Jill Hutson and Technology Team Leader Robert Castro spent Monday and Tuesday at West Buncombe Elementary School, where they connected Homework Hotspots for 14 families who came one at a time to practice social distancing.

“I meet them at the door and have a place for them to sit,” Ms. Hutson said. “I pick up the device, sanitize it, and hook it up, then give it back to them and show them how it works. It should automatically connect at home, but if there’s a problem, I show them how to reconnect it.”

Inna Botnar brought devices for her four school-aged children on Tuesday. Her family recently moved to a new home, and their local Internet service provider hasn’t been able to schedule an installation yet.

“Without Internet, we had to go to my sister’s house for the kids to do their homework – a lot of driving here and there,” she said. “They still miss school, their teachers and their friends, but now with the Internet at home, things will be a lot easier.”

Proving that planning pays off, BCS has been able to deliver online instruction thanks to a years-long investment in the Technology Department’s 1:1 Digital Initiative, which provided an instructional device (typically a laptop or iPad) to every child in the district. Up to this point, teachers have used the devices to enhance classroom learning. Now, with school buildings closed to students, the 1:1 devices have allowed teachers to continue educating children even in this difficult time.

"Having almost 700 Homework Hotspots prior to March 13, 2020 has been a key component as the team has worked, and continues to work, to meet the needs," said BCS Director of Technology Barry Pace.

“The behind-the-scenes work that the entire Technology Department does has been a huge part of how well BCS was ready for the Virtual Days rollout,” Ms. Averill said.

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If you do not have internet at home and you need a Homework Hotspot, please call your school for more information. If you are having problems with your Homework Hotspot, tech assistance is available through a live chat.

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