As wind swept through a mobile home community Monday morning, a yellow school bus pulled up to a vacant pool and basketball court.
Aurora Aguilar parked and hopped out, carrying posters that flapped in the turbulent air. She fastened them to the side of the bus, creating a how-to guide for students wanting to access the internet. And then she waited — an act unfamiliar to bus drivers accustomed to strict schedules.
But, in the age of coronavirus, school bus drivers have heeded a new call for help. Twenty-eight Clark County School District bus drivers are bringing WiFi capability to students along carefully selected routes. Another 14 drivers are on back-up duty.
“If they ever have another emergency like this again in the world, this is a pretty good idea,” said Aguilar, who, like the other WiFi bus drivers, lives near her route in the northeast valley.
The Clark County School District deployed the WiFi buses in early May and then added another route last week. The buses project WiFi in a 400-feet radius, allowing some children to remain inside while they log on. For everyone else who needs to walk closer, a sign attached to the bus says, “Please remember to practice social distancing.”
The WiFi-equipped buses aim to reduce the digital divide that’s preventing students from learning while schools remain closed. If Chromebook distribution was the first part of the equation, consider this the second. The 14 routes, chosen based on suspected need, include stops at parks, grocery stores, apartment complexes, weekly rentals and other low-income neighborhoods where internet access may be spotty.
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