A new collaboration is taking aim at the digital divide that makes distance learning difficult or impossible for many San Antonio students without reliable internet access while the city observes the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order.
VIA, the City of San Antonio, San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio ISD and Northside ISD are partnering to provide mobile Wi-Fi service to students, using VIAtrans vans equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi networks. The vans are dispatched to various locations identified by the City, SAHA, SAISD and NISD partners, based on assessment of various factors, including student population in the area, other available resources and logistics that make network access possible while observing social distancing guidelines.
Nearly 25 percent of Bexar County households do not have a computer at home and about 21 percent lack broadband internet access, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2017 data). This disconnect means low-income families with school-aged children can’t easily access digital classrooms or lessons needed to complete the school year.
VIA mobile hotspots first rolled out April 9 to three test sites. Additional locations are being added based on availability of vehicles and utilization of the program. The program will continue on a limited basis, based on resource availability and site accessibility. To see if a VIA Cares hotspot is available in your area, see list of fixed daily schedule at right.