New collaboration brings internet to students during coronavirus pandemic

VIA teamed up with SAHA, the City of San Antonio and local schools to provide internet to students.

New collaboration brings internet to students during Coronavirus Pandemic
New collaboration brings internet to students during Coronavirus Pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit announced a collaboration with the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio ISD and Northside ISD this week that will provide mobile Wi-Fi to students by using a VIA van.

The vehicles are placed in different locations based on the student population in the area, available resources and vehicle access.

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In Amanda Garcia’s community of Lincoln Heights, you can see several VIA vans parked along the streets.

“It will help a lot because they can actually have their Wi-Fi to do the work during the day,” Garcia said.

Garcia said her daughter, who is a first grader at Jackson Keller Elementary, is learning online instead of in a classroom during the coronavirus pandemic. She said since they don’t have internet access at home, they’ve been using cell phone service.

“I know there’s a lot of people that don’t have the Wi-Fi, so (the program) will help them a lot,” Garcia said.

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Residents accessing the network cannot board the vans, and they must follow social distancing guidelines.

Dr. Ana Margarita “Cha” Guzman, with the San Antonio Housing Authority, said there are 20 vehicles placed in communities SAHA manages.

“Most of the properties in their community rooms already have it. But we want it for all children so that their parents can help them with their homework in the home,” Guzman said.

San Antonio is using Wi-Fi-equipped vehicles to provide internet access for students during coronavirus pandemic

Guzman said there are more than 6,000 children in public housing properties.

“That is good for now, but it’s not good enough. What we want and what we’re going to be asking the community is for all of our properties to have Wi-Fi and internet,” Guzman said.

They are not the only ones trying to bridge the digital divide.

Harlandale ISD is using school buses to bring internet access to communities.

The district said families can drive to one of the locations, park and download their kids’ assignments from their vehicles.

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