Rogers County schools receive mobile hot spots to enable distance learning

Claremore students are among those exploring digital options for the upcoming school year. Claremore is one of 175 school districts to receive mobile hotspots from Verizon.

Several Rogers County schools are among those receiving Verizon mobile hot spots from the state.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister today announced that 175 Oklahoma school districts have been awarded mobile internet access and devices through 50,000 Verizon Unlimited 4GE data plans and Jetpacks, following a competitive grant process.

Chelsea was awarded a total of 260 hot spots and 192 are headed to Claremore. Oologah will receive 168 and Verdigris 160.

CARES Act funds were utilized to “help ensure all students have connectivity to acess online learning if community spread of COVID-19 requires districts to use distance or hybrid learning models.”

Verdigris Public School Superintendent Mike Payne said, “This is going to be huge for our students. This will provide some much-needed internet capability for our students that need it. It’s just wonderful.”

“This pandemic has underscored the inequities of the digital divide that hinder opportunities for so many of our children,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “We know one-fourth of our students lack reliable home internet access. Many districts have used a portion of the funds allocated to them under the CARES Act to purchase a sufficient number of devices for every student to have access to technology, an effort we encouraged through incentive grants earlier this summer.

“But a device without connectivity is like a book in a pitch-dark room. We are grateful that this partnership with Verizon and OneNet will make a critical difference in ensuring many thousands of children and families will now have the opportunity for robust distance learning.”

Claremore Public School Superintendent Bryan Frazier said he knows this will make a big difference in the education of countless students.

“We are thrilled to be receiving these. This will increase the access for students,” Frazier said, adding that the number of students that will be utilizing digital learning options is still an unknown.

He said there are students in every school district that simply do not have access to reliable internet and Claremore is no exception.

“For some students it’s not available where they live. For some it’s available but they don’t have access for various reasons, like financial limitations. There are a lot of components at play. Some have it but it’s spotty and unreliable.... This meets those needs of all those individuals. This is very exciting and we will definitely put them to use.”

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