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GCS Rolls Out “Smart Buses”

 

May 28, 2020 – Guilford County Schools (GCS) is rolling out its new “smart buses” into communities in Greensboro and High Point.

Twice a week, Monday through Thursday, these buses will go into communities that are historically underserved and allow students to use the vehicles’ hotspot capabilities to access the internet for free. This will allow students to fully utilize the online learning options the district is currently providing.

The locations and dates are:

Location

Days

Time

Smith Homes

Tuesday/Thursday

9 a.m. – Noon & 1 – 4 p.m.

Ray Warren Homes

Tuesday/Thursday

9 a.m. – Noon

Hampton Homes

Tuesday/Thursday

1 – 4 p.m.

Claremont Homes

Monday/Wednesday

1 – 4 p.m.

Partnership Village

Monday/Wednesday

9 a.m. – Noon

Glen Haven Center

Monday/Wednesday

9 a.m. – Noon

JC Morgan

Monday/Wednesday

9 a.m. – Noon

Carson Stout

Monday/Wednesday

1 – 4 p.m.


“We’ve heard from families and know that one of the largest disruptions to online learning has been just getting online,” said Angie Henry, Guilford County Schools chief operations officer. “We know this won’t solve the problem for everyone, but we’re hoping this will allow more families to take part in online learning that will be crucial moving forward.”

Each smart bus can manage up to 65 simultaneous connections and the Wi-Fi reach for each bus is about 300 feet. Each bus has been outfitted with a rugged Wi-Fi device that provides connectivity to an internet service provider.

To protect the health of students and staff, students are not allowed on the buses, which are simply serving as Wi-Fi hotspots. Multiple buses will be parked strategically throughout large apartment complexes, mobile home parks and neighborhoods where census data indicates a lack of connectivity near where GCS students live. As is the case with Wi-Fi hotspots at individual schools, the district encourages students to download their work using the hotspot and then return home to complete the work. Students can then return to a hotspot to upload and submit the work for their teachers to review.

GCS is beginning this project with 10 buses equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities. After a couple weeks of collecting data to see how these buses are being used, the district may decide to add more buses, more locations or both.

More than 70,000 GCS students logged into Canvas since March 18, the beginning of online learning. That number accounts for about 96% of all GCS students. District data indicates that the vast majority of students – more than 80% – are engaging online in learning activities on a regular basis.