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'We are in uncharted waters' | CMS seeking solutions to virtual learning problems

Starting Wednesday, 5 school parking lots will be open to families who need access to reliable internet.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After the first week-and-a-half of school had its fair share of technical hiccups, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working to make virtual learning easier on students and their families

Starting Wednesday, August 26, Wi-Fi will be available at several locations, including five schools, for families who need access to reliable internet. According to CMS, thousands of students haven't even been able to log on because they don't have adequate internet at home. 

The CMS Foundation has been raising money and the district is working on buying much needed hotspots but in the meantime, there’s a more immediate solution. 

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“This provides about a 600 foot wide and 200 to 300 foot deep zone of external Wi-Fi that our community can come on to the property and use during this time if they don't have sufficient internet access at home,” Derek Root, the Chief Technology Officer for the district, said at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting. 

RELATED: Technical issues & connectivity among top concerns for CMS Board of Education

CMS already had the technology needed to start this program at five schools. Families will be able to access the Wi-Fi from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on school days. They must stay in their cars and follow state health and safety guidelines.

“We are in uncharted waters and it takes imagination to find solutions,” said Elyse Dashew, board chairperson.

RELATED: CMS announces funding for 100 homeless students after WCNC exclusive interview with former Panthers Steve Smith

The five locations are:

  • Hidden Valley Elementary School
  • Renaissance West STEAM Academy
  • Marie G. Davis Middle School
  • University Park Creative Arts School
  • Starmount Academy of Excellence

The district is also launching two mobile Wi-Fi centers using school buses.

Those two locations are

  • Bloomfield Acres (rental office area)
  • Central Avenue (partnered with the Latin America Coalition)

This temporary solution comes as the district works with vendors to fill the large need for hotspots.

“The foundation and the strategy management department have come to a number that's roughly 16,000,” Root said of the need for hotspots.

The board also approved a plan to allow the district to partner with community organizations to create remote learning centers around the county. This option provides internet connection and supervision for children.

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