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Rural school districts work to keep students connected to the internet

Alice ISD provided 1,200 Chromebooks for students and added Wi-Fi to buses so kids can access the internet no matter how far they live from school.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As school districts across Texas moved to remote learning during the pandemic, Alice Independent School District found a way to keep students connected to the internet in the most rural areas. They even fitted 10 school buses with Wi-Fi. 

"With COVID, it kind of transitioned our school into the distance learning realm, and so we transitioned a lot of our schoolwork into the Google Classroom," Alice ISD Technology Coordinator Yolanda Abrigo said. "They still have the ability to take their device and access the internet on the school bus, as well, to help close that homework gap." 

This comes as the Texas Comptroller reports 70% of 6th-12th grade students need internet access for homework, and 64% without access can't complete their assignments. Funding from the Texas Education Agency allows Alice ISD help solve that problem. 

"These kids are born with technology in their hands. So adding it I've just seen the light in their face, you know, giving them that opportunity where some aren't able to have the device to take home with them," said Abrigo.

Alice ISD uses the funding to provide each student with a device for class. They added 1,200 Chromebooks for students, smart boards for classrooms, and Wi-Fi to buses so kids can access the internet no matter how far they live from school. 

Abrigo told 3NEWS that they're always looking to add more, too. "We'll always be adding new things, technology changes every day. This is not ending anytime soon, so taking advantage with whatever the TEA has out there for us."

To further gage students' internet needs, Alice ISD surveyed students and their families. They found that 600-800 Wi-Fi hotspots were needed, and they were able to give them out with available funding. 

Now, even those in the most rural areas can access their assignments and stay connected to the school.

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