School buses stationed across Polk County to bring wireless internet to students

Coronavirus

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Rather than bring students to school, Polk County school buses are being used to bring school to students in the form of wireless internet.

On Monday, Polk County Public Schools deployed 50 yellow school buses with wireless routers inside.

“We’ve become acutely aware of the deficit of high speed, readily available, affordable internet access because of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Kim Long, executive director, Polk Vision.

Polk County Public Schools spent $85,600 on the routers.

With input from school staff and teachers, the district designated dozens of locations as areas with a need for connection.

“We’ve equipped 50 buses. We actually have 86 locations. So throughout the day some of our buses will move from one location to another,” said Rob Davis, assistant superintendent of Support Services for Polk County Public Schools.

The school district tested the routers and estimates there is a 500 foot range for a dependable connection.

Students and their families can pull up near the bus, log on to the “PCPSBUS” network and enter the password “PCPS2020.”

Bus locations and schedule can be found here.

“We can disconnect users if need be and manage users that way as well,” said Dr. Tina Barrio, assistant superintendent of Information Systems & Technology.

The school district began distributing laptops and tablets to students at the start of virtual learning in early April. It had 60,000 to distribute. So far 23,000 devices have been handed out.

“I don’t think every kid that needs a device has a device. I think that students had challenges coming to the school with a parent to actually get out a device,” said Dr. Barrios.

Dr. Barrios said the school district also purchased 500 MiFi cards, each costing nearly $200, to use during this pandemic and beyond.

“We’re looking at this as an investment for let’s say, hurricanes or incidents where we have to relocate students for a time period,” she said.

Dr. Barrios hopes this crisis serves as a lesson about the digital divide between students who have internet access and students who do not.

“I hope that as a state, we really look at education in a different way and fund it and make sure that every kid has a device. I don’t see any other way to really leverage or equal the playing field,” said Dr. Barrios.

Below is the list of locations and times to access the bus WiFi:

Auburndale, 33823

  • Boswell Elementary-2820 K-Ville Avenue (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Legacy Community Church – 201 Dickey Rd (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

Bartow, 33830

  • Gause Academy – 1395 Polk St. (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Gibbons Street Elementary – 1860 E Gibbons St. (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • St Marks Missionary Baptist Church (Corner of Dudley Dr @ 91 Mine Rd) – 2510 N 91 Mine Rd (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Stephens Elementary – 1350 N Maple Ave (12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Summerlin Oaks Apartments (Park at the complex) – 980 Church St. (7 a.m. – 12 p.m.)

Bradley Junction, 33835

  • First Baptist Church – 610 Pine St (2 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Davenport, 33837

  • Davenport School of the Arts – 4751 N County Rd 547 (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Horizons Elementary – 1700 Forest Lake Drive (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Davenport, 33897

  • Citrus Ridge Civic Academy – 1775 Sand Mine Rd (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Dundee, 33838

  • Dundee Elementary – 415 Fredrick Ave (12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Eagle Lake, 33839

  • Eagle Lake Elementary- 400 Crystal Beach (7 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • Pinewood Elementary- 1400 Gilbert St (2 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Eloise, 33880

  • The Freedom Church- 108 1st Street (10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

Fort Meade, 33841

  • Christmas Tree Trailer Park – Kristen Loop E. (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Lewis Elementary – 115 S Oak Ave (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)

Frostproof, 33843

  • Frostproof Elementary – 118 3rd St. (2 p.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Hwy 630 E @ Walk In Water Rd (Empty Lot) (10:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.)
  • Hwy 98 @ West Frostproof Rd (10:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.)
  • McClellan Rd @ Dawes Rd (7 a.m.– 10 a.m.)
  • Sun Ray United Methodist Church – 316 Raymond Ave (2 p.m.– 5 p.m.)

Haines City, 33844

  • Bethune Academy – 900 Avenue F (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Boone Middle – 225 S 22nd St (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Eastside Elementary – 1820 East Johnson Avenue (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Parkview Village Apartments – 3601 Baker Dairy Rd (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • PCPS Haines City Fuel Site – 800 Oak Ave (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Sandhill Elementary – 1801 Tyner Rd (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)

Indian Lake Estates, 33855

  • Indian Lake Estates @ J & J Restaurant -1 Deland St. (7 a.m.– 10 p.m.)

Kissimmee, 34759

  • Lake Marion Creek Middle – 3055 Lake Marion Creek Rd (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Laurel Elementary – 1851 Laurel Ave (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Palmetto Elementary – 315 Palmetto St (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)

Lake Hamilton, 33851

  • Post Office Lake Hamilton- 201 W Main St (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)

Lake Wales, 33853

  • McLaughlin Middle – 800 S 4th St. (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Polk County Fire Rescue Station 840 – 4925 Timberlane Rd (7 a.m.– 10 a.m.)
  • Roosevelt Academy – 115 E St. (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)

Lake Wales, 33859

  • Orange Acres Mobile Home Park – Lake Buffum Rd E @ Barnwell Ave (7 a.m.– 10 a.m.)
  • Soccer Field – 151 Hunt Brothers Rd (10:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.)

Lake Wales, 33898

  • Greater Saint Thomas Holiness Church – 2256 Friedlander Rd (2 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Lake Pierce Ranchettes Park – 2670 Fast Trott Trail (10:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.)
  • Mammoth Grove Rd @ Masterpiece Rd (Open Lot) (2 p.m.– 5 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33801

  • 2525 Marion Dr (Back of property is on Blair Cir N) (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Crystal Lake Middle – 2410 N Crystal Lake Dr (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Lakeland Discount Grocery – 1305 N Combee Rd (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Reynolds Rd @ Barrington Ave (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Skyview Dr @ Marler Ave – 2939 Skyview Dr (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Tenoroc High School Loading Zone-4909 Saddle Creek Road (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33803

  • Dixieland Elementary – 416 West Ariana St (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Sunshine Village (Club house in back of village) – 1234 Reynolds Rd (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33805

  • 3015 Tenoroc Mine Rd (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Achievement Academy – 716 Bella Vista St (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Lakewood Terrace Apt – 1315 W 14th St (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Lighthouse Baptist Church – 430 Longfellow Blvd (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Providence Reserve Apartments – 955 Providence Reserve Loop (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Rochelle SOA –  1501 Martin L King Jr Ave (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33809

  • Lake Gibson Senior – 7007 N Socrum Loop Rd (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Outreach Baptist Church – 11425 Rockridge Rd (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33810

  • Socrum Elem – 9400 Old Dade City Rd (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Winston Academy – 3415 Swindell Rd (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33811

  • James Sikes Elementary – 2727 Shepherd Rd (7 a.m.– 10 a.m.)
  • RB Wagner Elementary – 5500 Yates Rd (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33813

  • Medulla Elementary – 850 Schoolhouse Rd (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)

Lakeland, 33815

  • Chestnut Woods Apt – 2400 Chestnut Woods Dr (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Jesse Keen Elementary – 815 Plateau Ave (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)

Mulberry, 33860

  • Dollar Store – Back parking lot (Willow Oak area) – 2170 Bailey Rd (7 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
  • Paradise Lakes – 914 Navaho TRL (10:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.)
  • Purcell Elementary – 305 1st Ave NE (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)
  • Tennis Court – Upper Meadow Ridge Ave @ Meadow Ridge Ave (12:30 PM – 5 p.m.)
  • Willow Oak Baptist Church Parking Lot – 3390 Willow Oak Rd (7 a.m.– 12 p.m.)

Polk City, 33868

  • 15109 Commonwealth Avenue (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Polk City Elementary-125 South Bougainvillea Avenue (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Wahneta, 33880

  • Wahneta Elementary- 205 4th St W (12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Winter Haven, 33880

  • Abby Lane Apartment- 100 Evergreen PL SW (7 a.m. – 10 a.m.)
  • Old JPV Fire Dept- 21 Coleman Rd (12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Winter Haven, 33881

  • Elbert Elementary- 205 15th St NE (7 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • Garner Elementary- 2500 Havendale Blvd (10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
  • Jewett School of the Arts- 2250 8th St NE (7 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • Pep Program- 200 Avenue R NE (12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Polk State College Parking Lot- 999 Ave H NE (7 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • Ridge Technical College – 7700 FL-544 (12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Westwood MS- 3520 Ave J NW (2:00 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Winter Haven, 33884

  • Chain of Lakes Elementary- 7001 State Highway 653 (7 a.m.– 10 a.m)

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