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PSS rolls out Wi-fi on Wheels program

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THE Public School System’s Wi-fi on Wheels or WOW program was launched Wednesday to serve about 200 students and community members in Kagman, PSS distance education coordinator Lorraine Catienza said.

She was at Santa Soledad Church on Wednesday, waiting for students who do not have internet access at home to avail themselves of free wi-fi “to support their learning enrichment, communication, and access information.”

Four PSS buses equipped with wi-fi were at the Santa Soledad Church, the Kagman 2 Basketball Court, the Chacha Oceanview Middle School parking lot, and the Kagman Community Center.

The buses were in areas with open spaces so that individuals could observe the social distancing directives.

Catienza said each WOW bus, through IT&E and Docomo Pacific, can support up to 50 devices with downloads of up to 10 megabytes per device.

 The Wi-fi on Wheels program rolls out in Kagman on Wednesday.  In photo are Public School System distance education coordinator Lorraine Catienza, left, PSS research and evaluation program coordinator Anette Pladevega, and a staff member with the PSS Pupil Transportation Office at the Santa Soledad Church. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

“They can watch YouTube, stream videos, and access other sites,” Catienza said, adding that the program also filtered some contents to block inappropriate sites.

The WOW program will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on weekdays.

The PSS’ Pupil Transportation Office and Instructional Technology Department are implementing the program at different sites.

WOW is funded for four months or until public schools reopen in September.

Catienza said they chose Kagman as their first site because it has limited wireless access.

“I know there’s one coffee shop here that closed down recently. There’s not a lot of access points in this area,” she added.

WOW, she said, will expand.

PSS director of instructional technology Dr. Bobby Cruz, for his part, said the school system cannot provide devices yet to the students.

“We talked about the possibility of getting the students to rent out devices…we are looking into using some of the stabilization funding to provide that support. But for now we are just providing free wi-fi to the community,” he said.

Based on a previous survey, Cruz said about 25% of PSS students do not have laptops.

He added that PSS will roll out WOW islandwide on May 26.

They will do it by cluster: at the northeastern areas that include Santa Soledad, the Capital Hill baseball field, and the Kagman Community Center. Then they will move to the central cluster: the Garapan Roundhouse, 13 Fishermen Memorial, the Mount Carmel area, and the Northern Marianas College parking lot. Next is the southern cluster.

Cruz said PSS also plans to extend the program to Rota and Tinian on June 1.

 

 

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