SAN ANTONIO – Hundreds of Harlandale ISD students will soon have internet at home thanks to a partnership with the City of San Antonio.
Crews began installing cell towers around the Harlandale School District in December.
“We understand that there is a digital divide. That is a real thing and a lot of our kids, they’re at a disadvantage already and so when they don’t get the internet, then that or the benefits of it, then that becomes even a greater gap. So what we were trying to do was try to fill and close that gap,” said Myrna Martinez, director of information services for Harlandale ISD.
Martinez said families who live near these towers will receive a router where they can connect to the internet.
“The first live tower is scheduled to go up on Jan. 27. So just in a couple of weeks and then the rest will follow fairly quickly,” Martinez said.
Martinez said a total of 14 cell towers will be installed and the goal is to have them all operational by the end of the school year.
“The city pretty much picked up the whole tab. They’re paying for everything up until the fourth year,” Martinez said.
Research was conducted by the city and UTSA to find the best spots to place the cell towers.
“What the research found was that we had a greater density, you know, more, more kids living in certain areas and also greater need. You know that there were there was less internet in the homes in certain areas,” Martrinez said.
Harlandale ISD parent Elizabeth Padron believes the project will have a big impact on students.
“They’re going to have access to the resources and the school, to do their projects, to do their classes and to complete their homework. So, I’m excited about it,” Padron said.
The school district also partnered with Texas A&M-San Antonio to create a program where they train Harlandale students on how the devices work.
Students will be certified and get paid to answer phone calls and support families who receive an internet router and have questions.