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San Francisco installs Wi-Fi ‘SuperSpots’ for distance learning during Covid-19 lockdown

The 25 SuperSpot devices will be located in areas where there are a lot of students lacking internet connectivity.

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The City of San Francisco is deploying up to 25 Wi-Fi “SuperSpots” to support students with distance learning during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.

 

The programme will be delivered through a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and national non-profit organisations EducationSuperHighway and the 1Million Project Foundation.

 

The devices will be located in areas of highest need, including public housing sites and single-room occupancy buildings.

 

Each SuperSpot will provide internet access for 100 users and is powered by the Sprint Network.

 

Each SuperSpot will provide internet access for 100 users and is powered by the Sprint Network. The equipment, installation and operating costs are fully covered by philanthropic funding from the 1Million Project Foundation and EducationSuperHighway, and the hotspots will remain in place for the remainder of the school year.

 

The city says it is also working to roll out additional Wi-Fi hotspots to complement the new SuperSpots and bolster existing free, high-speed internet provided to low-income residents through San Francisco’s Fibre to Housing programme.

 

Connectivity barriers

 

“Every student in San Francisco needs to be able to stay connected to their teachers and classmates and keep learning as they stay home with their families during this time, regardless of where they live or if their family can afford to pay for high-speed internet,” said San Francisco’s Mayor London N Breed.

 

“We know that access to internet is a barrier to distance learning for many students, which is why we’re launching this new programme to provide free internet to places where it’s needed. I want to thank our non-profit partners for working with us to make sure our students can keep learning remotely.”

 

Devices

 

The SuperSpots will be deployed from April 13, when the San Francisco district’s teacher-led distance learning plan rolls out.

 

SFUSD estimates that up to 10,000 students in grades 3-12 need access to a device and Wi-Fi to enable studying at home, but says 29 per cent of students in the district do not have internet access.

 

EducationSuperHighway plans to share takeaways from the project to help other cities and organisations support students with distance learning during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond.

 

Over the past two weeks, SFUSD has distributed more than 5,400 devices to students purchased with funds donated by individuals, foundations and corporations, including $2 million from private equity firm Thoma Bravo. SFUSD anticipates another 4,000 students will need devices.

 

EducationSuperHighway plans to share takeaways from the project to help other cities and organisations support students.

 

Last week, Google announced that it will donate 4,000 Chromebooks to California students and free Wi-Fi to 100,000 rural households for a minimum of three months to make distance learning more accessible during the Covid-19 crisis.

 

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