West Virginia’s Berkeley County School District made their first purchase of hotspot devices from Mobile Citizen in July 2020. Since then, they’ve bought over 1,000 devices with high-speed Internet service to make sure all their students could get online from home. David Kenney, Director of Information Technology for the school district, says that even though the Wi-Fi connectivity devices were initially purchased to support full-time and part-time remote learning during the state-mandated COVID-19 shutdown, the need for these devices will likely continue even after the pandemic is behind us.
Keeping Teachers and Kids Connected
The Berkeley County School District already had a 1:1 technology program in place when the state of West Virginia temporarily closed the doors to in-person learning in 2020. Students were outfitted with school-provided Chromebooks or Apple iPads, so Kenney and his team just had to make sure all those kids (and their teachers) could get connected remotely. While in the building, students can use their Chromebooks and iPads to log on to the school’s secure Internet, but not all the district’s 19,500 students have Internet access at home.
The entire county is serviced by only one cable Internet provider, and there are plenty of pockets and corners of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle region where cable service doesn’t reach. So even though Comcast Internet Essentials is available at no charge to students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, not everyone can take advantage of it.
Low-Cost Mobile Internet for Schools
The Berkeley County School District IT team purchased hotspot devices and Internet services from two providers to make sure they had strong mobile Internet coverage throughout the county. Mobile Citizen, whose Internet service is delivered on the Sprint network, was one of them. “Anywhere we can send Mobile Citizen devices out to families in the district, we’re happy to,” explained Kenney. “The devices are simple to use and the pricing is really good, especially the service costs.”
Mobile Citizen is a digital equity project of Voqal, offering low-cost mobile Internet devices and unlimited 4G data plans exclusively to schools, nonprofits, and social welfare agencies nationwide.
Small Devices, Large Impact
Kenney and his team appreciate the fact that the Mobile Citizen devices are simple to manage, “They’re extremely easy to set up and there’s not much management that needs to be done. We can send them out with the families who need them,” he said, “and they just work.”
Mobile Citizen hotspots provide a secure connection, with built-in content filtering and consistent high-speed service. Small enough to fit in a pocket, these devices have made a big impact in the lives of students across the school district. For kids who typically wouldn’t have Internet service in their homes, the devices mean they can keep up with their coursework rather than fall behind their peers.
Distance Learning, Continued
Even post-pandemic, Kenney says he doesn’t see the need for mobile Internet going away. Families who’ve grown accustomed to the flexibility of completing assignments and learning online are unlikely to want to give it up.
Affordable Internet from Mobile Citizen helps schools bridge those gaps in home Internet access to create a more equitable learning environment for all students. It can also be used to enhance staff productivity, power charter school education and support all types of mobile study needs and remote programs. To explore opportunities for your school, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.