Education Update: Calcasieu Parish schools to roll out mobile hotspot buses to help with virtual learning

Updated: Apr. 29, 2020 at 7:30 PM CDT
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CALCASIEU, La. (KPLC) - The 2020 school year won’t end how many of us had hoped. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen how students and teachers have adapted to new ways of learning.

While the verdict is still out on a final plan for high school graduations, high school principals are submitting plans for both live and video ceremonies.

According to the Calcasieu Parish School Board’s latest update, they’re still waiting on word from the state regarding safety measures.

The school board says if video graduations do take place, each student will have the opportunity to receive their diploma from their principal and take photos, those photos would be placed in video format and shared with families.

As far as the grading system going forward, officials have not made a decision on how final grades will be calculated. However, remediation and grade recovery may be available to qualifying students.

Plans for summer school will be decided on within the coming weeks.

With school doors closed across Louisiana, many children are falling behind in studies because of a lack of internet.

In Calcasieu Parish, officials say many parts of the parish have cell signals too weak to use to get online and many families can’t afford internet in the first place. The solution, they figured out, was to use the school buses to take the internet to the kids.

“Online learning is more than just a website, it’s about engaging kids, having a rigorous curriculum, and providing lots of student opportunity," said CPSB Chief Technology Officer Kim Leblanc.

In the meantime, as learning continues on the virtual path, the school board is implementing tools to make the process easier for students and parents.

“We chose a company called Kageet who is providing us with CIPA-compliant Wi-fi," said Leblanc.

Leblanc says beginning next week, 12 school buses equipped with mobile Wi-fi will be placed at different locations throughout the parish, to help assist those who may not have internet access at home.

“This is going to be a perfect long-term solution for us," Leblanc said. "These buses will go past this pandemic. We have all types of ideas that we can use these buses for in the future...When teachers are on field trips with kids, it would be ideal to have wi-fi on that bus.”

The buses will be spread throughout the district and Wi-Fi usage data will be used to determine if a bus needs to relocate. CPSB asks that the public maintain the social distancing protocol while using these Wi-Fi hotspots by parking near the bus but staying in your vehicle at all times. Once these buses are dispersed, CPSB will be sharing locations with the public.

With the primary focus being the students, the school board says they are continuing to look at innovative ways to end the school year on a successful note.

Leblanc says they hope to roll the buses out on Monday. The exact locations of where they will be placed will be shared with the public by the end of this week.

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