Duncanville ISD is reaching out to their students several ways, through specially equipped school buses to provide high speed internet. and by personally contacting students.
A new program called ‘WiFi on Wheels’ takes internet access to students who may have unreliable or no service at all. School buses equipped with internet transmitters are parked in four locations throughout the district. They offer free wi-fi to as many students as possible. Because buses are mobile, the internet access locations can change to meet the needs of students.
“This program gives us another layer of support through a different avenue,” said Andrea Fields, the Duncanville ISD Chief of Staff and Operations. “People don’t typically think of transportation supporting internet access for students. To complement what we’ve already done through the Technology Department, we hope we’re helping to close the digital divide.”
At the start of the pandemic, DISD ordered and distributed more than $3 million in laptops and hotspots. Even though a student has a device, that doesn’t mean they have reliable access to the internet.
WiFi on Wheels
Thanks to WiFi on Wheels, students and their families can pull into the parking lots at the designated apartment complexes (see below) and log in from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each school day. Each school bus is monitored by a bus driver.
The school district also provides free 24-hour wi-fi access outside 10 district campuses. Recently installed antennae extend the internet service beyond the walls of the school building. With a district login, students and staff can access the internet at the following campuses.
Acton, Bilhartz, Central, Hastings and Merrifield elementary schools, Daniel Intermediate School, Kennemer, and Reed middle schools, Duncanville High School, and the Summit Education Center.
Anyone with a district-issued device should be able to seamlessly connect. To learn more, visit DuncanvilleISD.org/WIFIOnWheels.
Duncanville ISD Volunteer Visits
Volunteers from Duncanville ISD spent time last Saturday knocking on doors in efforts to reach some 100+ students who aren’t engaging in school. ‘Operation Connection’ identified students who enrolled in the district’s virtual learning program who haven’t attended or completed work online.
“Unfortunately, we have seniors and juniors who are off track to graduate because they’re not engaging,” said Chief of Schools Sam Nix. “We have students [where] the learning gap is just continuing to widen. Not because they’re not enrolled, but because they’re not engaging.”
The district’s decision to try personal contacts with students and their families came after repeated attempts by teachers, counselors and administrators to reach them.
Duncanville Chief of Schools Sam Nix
“We’re just going to connect with them,” said Dr. Nix. “We’re going to inform them and support them and we’re going to do everything we can before this semester ends to provide them with opportunities to be successful.”
Volunteers met at Reed Middle School Jan. 23 to gather materials and receive a list of families to visit. Each student received a bag with instructions on how to log onto their virtual classes as well as an academic calendar and t-shirt.
Fairmeadows Elementary School Assistant Principal and Operation Connection organizer Latonia Dennis said, “I know they will see how much we miss and care about them. Duncanville ISD has stepped outside the box and I am so happy to be part of an organization that wants to make sure we are doing all we can to engage with our families. I look forward to seeing their faces again in the classroom or virtually.”
Because of concerns about the ongoing pandemic, the volunteers used specific safety protocols in their visits.