TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — As the Vigo County School Corporation returns to full-time remote learning due to the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, it is deploying WiFi-enabled buses throughout the city for students to download assignments and upload their day’s work.
Without these buses, bus drivers would not be able to work their shifts. With the 136 WiFi-enabled buses — and VCSC Director of Communications Bill Riley said Wednesday that a couple more may be on the way — bus drivers can do their jobs, just at slightly different hours.
The buses are available for different schools at different times at different locations. Most will be on duty in church and business parking lots, others will be in local parks. Some buses are available between 9-11 a.m., others between noon-2 p.m. To find when a bus will be in your area, go to vigoschools.org/, scroll down past “Current Education Model” and click on the WiFi bus lists for either elementary, middle or high schools.
Buses will be parked in sizable parking lots around town. Parents and students can pull up alongside the bus or camp out anywhere in the general area — the WiFi signal is strong enough to carry significant distances. WiFi is provided by a router on the bus driver’s dashboard and is tied to the vehicle’s ignition – “When the ignition is on, the WiFi is on,” Riley explained.
While some classes will be live on Google Meet, for the most part, students can use the WiFi to download new assignments and turn in work they have accomplished. “They can sit there for 15 minutes and be on their way,” Riley said.
Riley added that the Chromebooks that schools provide students have an offline mode, meaning they can complete their assignments without needing WiFi.
The WiFi bus units were purchased by the Vigo County Education Foundation, the United Way/Wabash Valley Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund, a few other donors, and by the Vigo County School Corporation.