Wi-Fi on school buses? Why not, says Caldwell County

Published: Jun. 2, 2016 at 4:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2016 at 2:11 AM EDT
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CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV ) - Some students in Caldwell County have more to do than just stare out the window on long school bus rides to and from school. In a pilot program, the first in Western North Carolina, wireless internet is in place on all the buses for Gamewell Middle School.

"For some of our students it is an opportunity that they might not have at home," said Assistant Principal Monica Martin.

The Caldwell Education Foundation along with Google spearheaded and funded the program. In addition to the Wi-Fi on the buses, Chrome Books are available for any students to use while riding.

Officials look at the bus rides now as rolling study-halls, where students can email teachers, do homework, research and more. Filters and firewalls are in place to keep students from straying into places on the internet they should not go, exactly as the internet access is configured in the school itself.

The Wi-Fi is not just for the students who want to use it, say officials. It also connects the cameras on the buses to the office at the school. That way what is happening on the buses can be monitored in real time.

School bus drivers say the program has led to quieter bus rides since many students are focusing on the computer screen.

On Friday afternoon at Gamewell Middle, officials will celebrate the program's implementation. It has been in the works since January, but only recently was completed.

School Spokesperson Libby Brown said, "This is a great thing for our county and our students." She said there are hopes that in the future, the program can be extended to other school and their buses, too.

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