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itoring of the vehicle, battery health, engine health. We’re looking at student tracking, especially now as we have been going through papers and papers of contact tracing. If we were to have a system that automatically does that tracing, it would save a lot of labor time on our side.”


Wi-Fi Access Essential to Connectivity Many school leaders recognize the need for Wi-Fi on the school bus, especially if their area does not have wide access to broadband internet, where the digital divide still prevails. “Even if we were able to have Wi-Fi on our buses, there


are several areas in our district with little or no service,” explained Debbie Schomisch, transportation director of Farwell Area Schools in Michigan. “During this pandem- ic, our school reached out to the townships in our area to provide internet service to students in their areas. They offered to help with the cost that would be incurred by the townships to broadcast their signal into their parking lots. This allowed students with unreliable or no service to connect to download their schoolwork.” Meanwhile, Katie Delano, the director of transporta-


tion services for Coalinga-Huron Unified School District in Coalinga, California, said her district does enable Wi-Fi access on the bus. Students can use their iPads or


computers on the buses. However, the major obstacle is the intermittency of the available service, she explained. With new and better wireless services available, it may benefit the district, and Delano said they look forward to using it if they can support it. “Technology is amazing and as a district we were one-


to-one long before the pandemic,” added Delano. “Every student and teacher either had an iPad or MacBook, [with] working hot spots on buses. Our IT department has been good with the changes and upgrades, so we are looking forward to better service for our kids.” Delano said the Wi-Fi benefit is appreciated but now the challenge is providing access. It may be that the wire- less service providers will provide service to areas that had sparse service, or none at all, as broadband service in rural areas is part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan. “I hope the speed, dependency and efficiency of Wi-Fi in our rural neck of the woods will improve,” said Dela- no. “Our Wi-Fi is stressed a lot of the time, so hopefully service including being dropped, buffering and speed will be better all around.”


Waiting on 4G, or Better Yet 5G Many schools as well as vendors of services and equipment used in wireless communications currently


www.stnonline.com 17


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