As part of the new Digital Bridge project, the City of San Francisco, California is installing up to 25 WiFi “SuperSpots” to support students with distance learning during the COVID-19 lock down. The program will be delivered through a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and two national non-profit organizations: EducationSuperHighway and the 1Million Project Foundation.
The devices will be located in areas of highest need, including public housing sites and single-room occupancy buildings. Each SuperSpot will provide internet access for 100 users and is powered by the Sprint Network. The equipment, installation, and operating costs are fully covered by philanthropic funding from the 1Million Project Foundation and EducationSuperHighway. SFUSD estimates that up to 10,000 students in grades 3-12 need access to a device and WiFi in order to study at home, but says 29% of students in the district do not have internet access.
“Every student in San Francisco needs to be able to stay connected to their teachers and classmates and keep learning as they stay home with their families during this time, regardless of where they live or if their family can afford to pay for high-speed internet,” said San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed. “We know that access to internet is a barrier to distance learning for many students, which is why we’re launching this new program to provide free internet to places where it’s needed. I want to thank our non-profit partners for working with us to make sure our students can keep learning remotely.”
EducationSuperHighway plans to share takeaways from the project to help other cities and organizations support students with distance learning.
“SFUSD is committed to finding equitable ways for our students to continue learning while schools are closed. Having access to a dedicated computer and WiFi is critical for students to sustain the connection to their teachers and educational content,” said superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “We’re deploying our distance learning program with urgency and creativity to meet the needs of our diverse student body and this requires tremendous resources we don’t have. I am so grateful to see the community coming together to support our children and families during this time.”