(Staff photo by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
(Staff photo by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
Today’s Good Friday holiday is a designated make-up day for a storm-related closure of Madison Consolidated Schools, meaning students are required to participate in the eLearning program.

To accommodate the roughly those Jefferson County families without online access at home, MCS has parked school buses equipped with wireless Internet to serve as “hot spots.”

Buses will be parked at Deputy and Anderson elementary schools, Dupont Baptist Church, downtown Brooksburg, Main Street in Canaan, the Chelsea General Store, the O.V.O. Parking lot, the front entrance of Woodside Park and the front office area at Madison Village.

Depending on the surrounding landscape, the Wi-fi should be accessible from distance of 800 to 1,000 feet from the bus. The remote service will only work with school-issued student devices and student login information. The Wi-fi will not be accessible by the public.

“We have implemented and beta-tested this service with our high school and junior high winter sports student athletes as buses were equipped,” said district technology coordinator Jennifer Watson. “We have seen students use their devices to do homework while traveling to and from events and have had positive feedback.”

The locations for the buses were based on a survey of 391 families; those without Internet access provided their home addresses to help administrators identify locations where families have little or no access, Watson said.

Of those surveyed, on non-school days 88.4 percent of students have access at home, 5.1 percent have access at a caregiver’s location, 4.2 percent use a smartphone or hot spot, 1.7 percent indicated “other” as their method of access, and 0.6 percent use public Wi-fi at restaurants or the library.

This will be “the first day we provide this service to our students districtwide, and we are very excited to see how this works,” she explained. “Our goal will be to utilize our buses and expand coverage during inclement weather eLearning days when weather and safety permit.”