Schaller Auto to help deploy Wi-Fi hotspots throughout New Britain
CSDNB partners with Schaller Auto to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots in city neighborhoods for more than 1,000 students without internet access
NEW BRITAIN, CONNECTICUT – The Consolidated School District of New Britain (CSDNB), in partnership with Schaller Auto, will be deploying dozens of vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots throughout New Britain to provide internet access for students who have not been able to regularly engage in online learning, known as Continued Educational Opportunities (CEO).
CSDNB transitioned to phase two of CEO on March 30, and students have been completing assignments through Google Classroom. Since schools initially closed on March 13 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 2,700 virtual classrooms have been created and activated. Further, approximately 90% of students have engaged with their teachers since the district moved to online learning.
However, there are still more than one thousand students (about 10%) who have found it challenging to connect due to the lack of internet access in their homes. Now, with the help of Schaller Auto, these students – who would have otherwise remained offline through the end of the school year – will be able to engage with their teachers and classmates.
“Our primary goal during this time is to ensure that our students are engaged with their teachers, but unfortunately, many students have been unable to do so because they can’t connect to a Wi-Fi network,” said Superintendent Nancy Sarra. “And while we were able to come up with a plan to acquire hotspots, we still needed a method to distribute the internet into the neighborhoods. That is where Art Schaller stepped in, graciously offering to utilize his vehicles and staff to help us ensure that all our students have access to the internet for the remainder of this school year. We are incredibly grateful for Art’s support and the willingness of his staff to take part as well.
I am also extremely proud of our CSDNB technology team, who would not take no for an answer. They were determined to find a way to fix this problem. We understand that this is a temporary fix to provide Wi-Fi access to all New Britain students during the remainder of this virtual school year, but we know that we must find a more permanent solution so we can provide access and equity for all of our New Britain students.” CSDNB is currently in the process of acquiring the hotspots and will configure them to require passwords to connect. This information will be communicated to those families without internet access, which will allow them to use both school-distributed devices as well as family-owned devices. Once the networks are configured and installed in the vehicles, staff from Schaller Auto will drive to neighborhoods lacking internet access, which were identified through surveys and internal data. They will remain there Monday through Friday during specific parts of the school day. These timeframes will be conveyed to families, so they know when they can connect.
“When I heard that there were more than 1,000 students who did not have internet access, I knew right away that we had to do something to help,” said Schaller, owner of Schaller Auto. “Now, thanks to our staff who have volunteered to deploy Wi-Fi to city neighborhoods for the remainder of the school year, these students will be able to receive the same education their peers are getting. We are incredibly proud and thankful for this opportunity to help the school district.”
To date, CSDNB has distributed Google Chromebooks to more than 2,850 families, but because one device per household for K-8 students presents a hardship for families with multiple school-age children, the district will reach out this week to better equip each family with additional devices to ease that burden. Additionally, how-to videos for families were created in English, Spanish, and Arabic to support families in navigating the CEO platforms. These videos, in addition to instructions on how to access PowerSchool, student G-Mail, and other applications, can be found on the CSDNB DAB website. The full deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to be completed by the middle of May.
About Schaller Auto
Schaller Auto is a third-generation, family-owned and operated dealership group founded in New Britain in 1953. They sell and service Honda, Subaru, Acura, and Mitsubishi vehicles. They also operate a large collision repair shop as well as an Allstate insurance agency. In all, their team is made up of over 200 people in New Britain, Berlin and Manchester, CT.
About the Consolidated School District of New Britain
In partnership with family and community, the Consolidated School District of New Britain works to provide the best personalized and comprehensive whole-child education at every level so students will be prepared for and positively contribute to a profoundly different future. The Consolidated School District of New Britain strives to pursue excellence one student at a time. For more information, visit www.csdnb.org.