Original article can be found at KUT 90.5.

Andy Jechow; April 10, 2020

The Austin Independent School District says it has deployed 110 buses with Wi-Fi to neighborhoods and apartments where home internet access is least likely. Last Friday, the school district announced its school buildings are closed indefinitely as classes move online to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Wi-Fi-equipped buses are funded through a grant from wireless provider Kajeet worth more than $600,000, Austin ISD said.

Students who live near the bus locations (listed below) can access the free Wi-Fi on their school computers — not personal devices — weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the district said.

In its step-by-step guide for getting access to the Wi-Fi locations, AISD says students must be within 300 feet of the buses. Because the routers on the buses have a reach of between 150-300 feet, more buses will be deployed at bigger apartment complexes.

“Ideally we want [students] to be able to stay inside,” Kevin Schwartz, chief technology officer for AISD, said. “For some people they may need to come toward the bus.” 

Schwartz says the district may adjust where it sends buses or how it addresses internet access as it learns more.

He says no one is allowed to board the buses and reminds students to stay 6 feet apart. For technical help, call 512-414-9187.

AISD says the buses will be at these locations during the specified hours.

North locations:

  • 8800 & 8900 N. IH 35 (Avesta & Capella Apartments) 
  • 5701 Johnny Morris Rd. (Pecan Park Mobile Homes) 
  • 7000 Decker Lane (Huntington Meadows Apartments) 
  • 1601 E. Anderson Lane (Ashford Costa Esmeralda previously Creekwood Apartments) 
  • 1901 E. Anderson Lane (Avesta Apartments) 
  • 1044 Norwood Plaza (Paddock at Norwood Apartments) 

South locations:

  • 10701 & 10505 S. IH 35 (Onion Creek Apartments & Bridge at Asher Apartments) 
  • 1601 E. Slaughter Lane (River Ridge Community) 
  • 815 W. Slaughter Lane (Trails at the Park) 
  • 8405 Old Bee Cave Rd. (Southwest Trails Apartments) 

Mobile Wi-Fi is available at the following schools: 

  • Uphaus Early Childhood Center (5200 Freidrich Ln.)
  • Metz Elementary (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St.)

KUT’s Claire McInerny contributed to this story.