School buses delivering food double as WiFi hotspots for kids with no internet

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — The longer the stay-at-home order is in place in the Carolinas, the longer students have to learn online.

Some families in rural areas don’t have access to the internet, so students in Chester and Fairfield counties are getting Wi-Fi hot spots brought to them by school bus -- the same buses that have been delivering them food.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, a Chester County school bus pulled into Mount Zion Baptist Church, in a rural area outside Great Falls.

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For the last month, it’s been there for three hours nearly every day, serving a full breakfast and lunch to students who may not have a way to get to their school campuses to pick up meals.

Last week, the distinct loaded up more food and reduced the trips to three days a week to protect its employees and the public.

“We’ve just done the best we can with what we’ve got, and every day we learn something new, and figure out how we can reduce contact and reduce risk," said Becky Crouch, with Chester County Schools.

Now there is a sign in the school bus window that says it’s a Wi-Fi hot spot. It means kids can show up and use it to work on their class assignments.

“To make sure that our students had access to assignments, and make sure they could go places where they could download the material they need from school," said parent Nancy Smith.

Some parents coming by to pick up meals said it’s critical the school provides this to help students do their classwork.

The district has nine sites around the county where the service is being provided for as long as it’s needed.

“Now that they’re starting the Wi-Fi also so that the kids can do their work that are in middle school and high school, I think that’s a great thing," said Smith.

Students using the Wi-Fi are not allowed on the school bus but can access the internet from within about 200 feet of the bus.

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