Truckee students get critical connection for distance learning
So many people in our community are working together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and help those hit hardest by the crisis. Significant challenges facing our local schools, students and families continue as Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD) navigates the complexities of distance learning and now a partial re-opening. TTUSD’s leadership and staff have been working to effectively serve the needs of every student despite the challenges posed by distance learning.
One critical issue in our community has been a lack of internet service or poor connectivity issues for some of our families. TTUSD had identified several communities within Truckee, with significant student populations, where access to the internet was a barrier for the student to access the high-quality education they deserve. Truckee Donner Public Utility District (TDPUD) became aware of this critical community need and reached out to the school district to collaborate on a solution.
“TTUSD is committed to serving the needs of all of our students; especially as we deliver quality distance learning in response to COVID-19,” said Carmen Ghysels, TTUSD superintendent and chief learning officer. “We are so appreciative of TDPUD’s quick response and collaboration in addressing a critical gap in everyone having the same access to learning.”
TDPUD, as Truckee’s local public utility, has existing communication technology – including operating a fiber optic network and expertise in deploying networks to over 30,000 IOT devices – along with the means to provide wireless internet access. TDPUD determined that it was possible to repurpose existing equipment to set up temporary free WiFi hotspots for student access at critical locations in Truckee.
“Truckee Donner PUD is dedicated to maintaining critical utility services during the COVID-19 pandemic but we understand that the community needs more help,” said Remleh Scherzinger, TDPUD general manager and chief executive officer. “Our staff took the initiative to build upon our existing infrastructure and strong partnership with the schools to quickly deliver quality WiFi to families identified by TTUSD.”
The first location for the temporary free WiFi hotspots will serve houses consisting of approximately 25 families with students attending TTUSD. The free WiFi hotspot installations are using TDPUD equipment mounted on TDPUD’s electric poles. Each student is given a password unique to their school-issued Chromebook. In addition to this first location, TDPUD has equipment on-hand to serve up to 100 families in need and is exploring creative ways to serve every student without access to the internet.
Source: Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Truckee Donner Public Utility District
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