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School buses are bringing free wireless internet to students in Manatee County

Posted at 5:53 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 17:53:55-04

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Normally, buses take students to school, but instead, school buses in Manatee County are helping bring school to the students.

School buses are being used as roaming WiFi hotspots across the county.

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The school buses are setting up at partnering churches and community centers, where students who don’t have the internet can get free WiFi to do their online school work.

School is closed in Manatee County until May 1 because of coronavirus concerns. Students are expected to attend school online.

"Having a device with no internet connectivity really doesn’t do you any good if you’re on an online platform," said Cynthia Saunders, Manatee County Schools superintendent.

That's why the district is partnering with churches and community centers to park buses in areas where students don’t have internet access.

"In our community, which is a low-income community, a lot of our members, don’t have WiFi or the capability of even doing school work," said Rev. James Sykes, Ward Temple AME Church Pastor.

Ward Temple AME Church in Bradenton is one of the locations where a school bus is located.

The district says they plan to have as many as 50 school buses wired and ready to bring internet access to areas across Manatee County. And bus drivers say they're glad to be able to still help kids learn.

"In a way we’re still helping out these students as far as getting their education," said Felicia Yarn, bus driver.