Comal County students are receiving some extra help with their homework through programs designed to expand online access.
This week, Comal ISD, through an online learning initiative called “Comal Continues: Home Learning Opportunities/Residence Learning Program,” equipped school buses with wireless network devices and parked them at seven locations throughout the district’s 589 square miles to provide internet access to those students who otherwise may not have access.
The district will place the seven Wi-Fi buses, which will broadcast a signal within 100 yards — the distance of a football field — at designated locales from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday until the last day of the school year on May 28.
The locations are:
• 10215 FM 2673, Canyon Lake
• 1944 E. Borgfeld Dr., San Antonio
• 17545 FM 306, Canyon Lake
• Tamiga Acres, Spring Branch
• 1050 N. Interstate 35 Frontage Road, New Braunfels
• 175 N. Solms Road, New Braunfels
• 101 Glenbrook Dr. E., New Braunfels
According to Travis Brown, Comal ISD’s chief technology information officer, the district has provided nearly 1,900 laptop computers to families who do not have access to technology in their homes.
“We believe that this is just one more opportunity to provide our students with the tools they need to participate in the district’s Residence Learning Program,” Brown said in a statement.
The Comal Education Foundation provided the district with a $7,000 donation to cover the cost of the bus Wi-Fi initiative.
“We are happy to see the program ‘rolling’ out to communities across Comal ISD, connecting teachers, students and families in a way that is sure to have a lasting impact,” said the foundation’s president, Chris Narendorf.
The district has also offered families discounted rates through local internet providers as well as wireless routers that act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. As of last week, Comal ISD has provided 124 of those devices so students can access the internet at home.
Comal ISD families in need of either a laptop or wireless router device can contact the district’s Technology Checkout Program at 830-221-2690.
GVTC Communications and its foundation have teamed up with seven local food pantries, three Boerne ISD schools and the GVTC Central Office of Blanco to establish free Wi-Fi hotspots for students and residents.
Hotpot locations include:
• CRRC (Community Resource and Recreation Center) of Canyon Lake, 1917 FM 2673, Canyon Lake
• Gonzales Christian Assistance Ministry, 708 St Louis St., Gonzales
• Habitat for Safe Seniors, 2174 Old Sattler Rd, Canyon Lake
• Helping Hands Food Pantry, 11755 U.S. Highway 281, Spring Branch
• Hill Country Family Service, 114 W. Advogt St., Boerne
• The Hope Center, 6260 U.S. Highway 281 N., Spring Branch
• Provisions, 2295-1 Bulverde Road, Bulverde
• Boerne High School, One Greyhound Lane, Boerne
• Kendall Elementary School, 141 Old San Antonio Road, Boerne
• Boerne Middle School, 10 Cascade Caverns Road, Boerne
• GVTC Central Office of Blanco, across from Blanco Elementary School
Individuals will be able to access free WiFi in the parking lots of the locations from their vehicles until further notice.
“It’s important that we remain strong and connected during this pandemic,” GVTC President and CEO Ritchie Sorrels in a statement. “As GVTC continues to provide essential communications services, we will continue to support one another in our community the best we can,” Sorrels said.