District deploying school bus wifi hotspots to help students connect

15 buses will fan out across West Ottawa's district to improve student's access to the internet during the state shutdown
Posted at 5:11 PM, Apr 14, 2020

HOLLAND, Mich. — 15 wifi-equipped buses will fan out across the West Ottawa school district to improve student's access to the internet during the state-mandated shutdown.

West Ottawa Public School's Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Todd Tulgestke spoke with FOX 17 Tuesday about the plan. He says the buses will be deployed into the district within the next 5 to 7 days.

“It's not replacing them being in the school buildings, but we're fortunate that these technologies are in place for this type of situation,” Tulgestke said.

The district has already been using their unused school buses to help feed students during the shutdown.

"We've got 10 school buses that run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And they feed... any student in our district, you know, or any parent that shows up at any of our 48 locations," he said Tuesday.

Tulgestke said the success of that program inspired them to figure out how they could use the district's buses to help keep students connected to the internet, and in turn their e-learning tools.

“we've strategically located places within our district, where we have some more dense housing areas where there's more students in a smaller geographic region," Tulgestke said.

“The hotspot broadcasts a wifi signal about 500 feet in range. So some of the students will have to obviously come close to the bus. Parents can park near it. Some of them will be in parking lots and some of our elementary school buildings.”

Tulgestke says that nearly all of their K-12 students now have an internet-ready device.

“Really, our remote learning plan is based heavily on being able to connect with their teachers online. A lot of Google Hangouts, a lot of Zoom meetings and then a lot of our curriculum is being pushed out online to our students. So that plan is going well," he said.

The district helping to make sure all of their students have the ability to keep up with their school work while stuck at home. .

"We're jumping both feet in and I know parents across our district are also doing this Same thing. But again, huge kudos to our teaching staff who put in, you know, tons and tons of work in a short amount of time to build the structure for, for our families to have from here until the end of the year," Tulgestke said.

You can visit the district's website for more information about the plan.