MCLEAN, Va. — Connectivity solution supplier Kajeet has awarded the Austin (Texas) Independent School District (ISD) a grant to install 534 Kajeet SmartBus Wi-Fi routers on its entire school bus fleet.
The grant, will be used to equip the district’s buses with Educational Broadband Service to support the district’s plans for dealing with COVID-19, according to a news release from Kajeet. It will also provide Wi-Fi access for students on traditional bus routes, field trips, activities, and athletic trips throughout the 2020-21 school year.
Although the grantmaking process began months before the COVID-19 outbreak, the award will figure significantly in the district’s remote online learning plans.
“As we prepare for the possibility of extended school closures, we know that an internet connection is a lifeline and a learning link for our students,” said Kevin Schwartz, chief technology officer for Austin ISD. “Austin ISD will be deploying many of our 500-plus Kajeet Wi-Fi/internet enabled school buses to locations around our school district so that students can connect using our district Chromebooks.”
Under the terms of the award, Kajeet and Austin ISD agreed to jointly deploy, promote, monitor, evaluate, and report on the impact of Kajeet SmartBus Wi-Fi as it relates to utilization rates, improvements to homework completion rates, student satisfaction, driver satisfaction, and reduction in disciplinary incidents, among other key performance measures. These metrics and more, which were planned before the recent COVID-19 outbreak, will be evaluated throughout the coming school year.
Daniel Neal, founder and CEO of Kajeet, said that the partnership is the largest deployment of the supplier's SmartBus Wi-Fi program in a single fleet, and that it will provide "irrefutable empirical evidence of its widespread impact in education, both enabling students to connect beyond the classroom and keeping them even safer on the school bus and as they disembark.”
“We’re especially pleased that the SmartBus Wi-Fi will be an essential component of Austin ISD’s COVID-19 response plans, since our underlying mission as a company has always been to provide safe, equitable mobile broadband access for students,” he added.
Kajeet SmartBus Wi-Fi has been deployed in more than 285 school bus fleets across the U.S. and Canada across six major LTE networks, according to the supplier, extending broadband access for all riders and enabling buses and other school vehicles to be used for additional connectivity for special activities, sporting events, field trips, and at community locations.