In order to ensure access for all students to virtual learning, Oceanside Unified School District has delivered 534 cost-free Internet hotspot routers and counting, serving the needs of more than 380 families and helping bridge the digital divide.
The first step in distributing hotspots for Internet access was to assess families’ needs, which staff did through surveys, applications, and by reaching out to families directly who were disconnected or had a need for support.
“When virtual learning began, our essential priority was to make sure students were safe and their immediate needs, such as food stability, were met. Then we pivoted to ensuring that students had devices and connections to teachers, peers, and instruction,” OUSD Superintendent Dr. Julie Vitale said. “Getting these hotspots into households has been a large undertaking, but our staff and community partners were committed to ensuring all students had the tools to succeed. When we have the necessary funding in schools, we can act immediately and provide what is needed without hesitation or compromise. Without the recent federal CARES education funds, we would have not have been able to provide these vital resources.”
Although virtual learning due to COVID-19 was unexpected, it propelled district initiatives aimed at bringing all classrooms into a 21st century blended learning environment. In October 2019, OUSD passed a technology plan setting up a pathway to one-to-one devices in the hands of all students over the course of three years, along with providing support for personalized education technologies and staff training. Now, with final pending orders for tablets and Chromebooks expected to be received by the end of January 2021, all students will soon have access to an updated device.
OUSD still has hotspots for home Internet access available, which can be requested by contacting their school community advisor. For parents or guardians with students at multiple locations, they only need to make the request at one school.
“Our work certainly isn’t done, but I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished in this year, putting technology in the hands of our students and doing everything we can to help them be successful not only through virtual learning, but also as they prepare for college, career and beyond,” Vitale said.