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Wood County Schools works to connect students for summer, fall

Wood County Schools officials are working to expand student access to technology and wifi in preparation for virtual summer school and possible remote learning in the fall. (File Photo)

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Schools is taking steps to ensure students have access to technology and the Internet this summer and fall.

The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday approved a nearly $1.5 million purchase order for iPads. With the purchase, the district will now have 12,000 iPads, enough to provide 1-to-1 access for all Wood County Schools students.

Superintendent Will Hosaflook said the purchase was made possible through federal CARES funding distributed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re definitely expanding our realm in terms of technology and making sure we are prepared if this would happen in the fall,” he said.

Hosaflook said officials have developed “a very robust, versatile summer school” program which will allow for virtual learning during the summer break and will help the district plan ahead for the fall if remote learning is needed.

“We’re utilizing the teachers, we’re utilizing their connections” to students, Hosaflook said “What we do not want to happen is for those connections to be lost over the summer, so we have reached out to many teachers and many programs to continue summer school virtually.”

Hosaflook said part of that requires making sure students not only have Internet access, but also the appropriate technology.

“The question is, how do we do virtual summer school if the kids don’t have devices? Well, we’re making that happen,” he said. “We’re making that happen by passing out iPads and computers.”

Hosaflook said the district’s attendance department has been distributing hundreds of refurbished laptops, reaching about 641 students so far.

The district also plans to outfit buses with wifi “cradles” which can allow up to 150 devices to connect to the Internet. The buses will be placed in areas of the county with low to no Internet access, Hosaflook said.

“I know that Mineral Wells and Blennerhasset have a hard time with wifi access, so we are going to start parking a bus up there,” he said.

Two of the buses will be available this summer, and the district is working to create additional wifi hotspots.

“We’ve established three cradle spots in our substation fire department throughout the county, especially in rural areas,” he said.

Hosaflook said all Wood County Schools students will have the ability to log into the wifi systems, as will students who attend West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“We have a great collaboration with WVUP, and they reached out to us,” Hosaflook said. “We have a lot of students who attend WVUP from Wood County, so we are helping them out as well.”

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.

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