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Outdoor WiFi Project Complete

by Rachel Dickerson | December 31, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

The McDonald County R-1 School District recently completed an outdoor WiFi project at all 10 of its campuses.

Director of technology Robin Leonard said the state of Missouri offered schools a Student Connectivity Access Grant to extend the schools' WiFi outside the schools into the parking lots so that students may bring their Chrome Books or other devices to the schools and use the WiFi if they do not have internet access at home.

"We do have some students that don't have efficient internet access at home," Leonard said, noting the district had assigned some 75 to 80 wireless hot spots to students before the outdoor WiFi project.

He said the total cost for the outdoor WiFi project was almost $49,000, with the state paying half of that amount.

Leonard said the project went smoothly as far as installation. He said the equipment was ordered on Oct. 14 after it was approved at the October school board meeting, and then it took about three weeks to get the order in. Then he and his staff mainly had to run cables.

"It went pretty smooth for us. Once you put that equipment in, you've got to program it to make sure it's working properly, and we're there," he said.

The project was finished around the end of November.

"We hope it does (help students), even if they're able to come up after school hours on the weekends. ... It kind of extends that school day. If they're up against a deadline and they didn't have internet, they don't have to wait till Monday or that next day to get that project done. I hope it's beneficial for them for sure."

Superintendent Mark Stanton said, "I'm very excited for the increased access for students that our new extended WiFi system will provide at all of our school locations. It is a win-win for our students and families. I appreciate the state and the governor for making grant money available to school districts to make this happen."


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