MSD of Decatur Township distributes 3,500 hotspots to give students internet access

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DECATUR TOWNSHIP, Ind. – A central Indiana school district is taking action to ensure students have access to the internet when they head home each day.

Friday morning, Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township leaders distributed 3,500 MiFi hotspots to students in grades 3 through 8. The devices were acquired thanks to a $700,000 grant. The district is among the first in the state to take such a step to bridge the digital divide.

High school students already have that kind of access through a separate program.

According to teachers and students, the days of turning in homework and quizzes only on paper are long gone. The trend is moving toward digital lessons and assignments done on iPads. But, the transition comes with some challenges.

“Sometimes, the wifi gets slow and when you’re trying to work on stuff it’s not loading fast,” said Hadleigh Filipovich, a seventh grade student. “You need to get it done in a certain amount of time.”

There are also kids who simply don’t have a way to get online once the final bell rings.

“We’ve done some surveys where we saw 20 to 30 percent of students don’t have any access or some that do use it from their phone and they consider that their access but that’s hard to do,” said Jeff McMahon, chief information officer for MSD of Decatur Township.

Friday, that changed. Each student received his or her own hotspot to take home with them at no cost. This is a big help in a district where nearly 65 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch. Some families may not be able to pay for internet at home.

“I think its great,” said Allisan Filipovich, a mom with kids who attend MSD of Decatur Township schools. “There’s no excuse now. Everybody has access. Everybody has an opportunity to do what they need to do and to further themselves.”

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