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Posted on: September 18, 2020

Message from Mayor Wheeler

In Partnership with Bremerton School District, City of Bremerton Buys Touchscreen Devices, Wi-Fi Hotspots to Assist Students with Virtual Learning

Due to the impacts of COVD-19 and in partnership with the Bremerton School District, Mayor Greg Wheeler announced today the distribution of over $250,000 in funds to help purchase touchscreen devices and additional Wi-Fi hotspots for Bremerton School District students. 

“This investment will help the district to meet the significant demand for new technology to support online learning while preserving activities that are critical for children and families to meet basic needs, including the school district’s free meals program,” said Mayor Greg Wheeler. “The collaboration between the City of Bremerton and Bremerton School District is the best chance to set up a successful virtual environment that limits the spread of COVID-19 and provides the greatest learning opportunities for Bremerton’s school children.”

Funding is coming out of the CARES Act federal grant provided to the City in response to the coronavirus. 

The City of Bremerton is purchasing Chromebooks with touchscreens for kindergarteners who were using laptops, many for the first time, and starting the year in online classes in response to guidance from health officials. With touchscreen devices, younger students only need to touch, drag or point at objects on the screen so mastery of the device is much easier than using a notebook-style device which requires young children to master the mouse, the cursor and the keyboard all at once. 

“The Bremerton School District is so appreciative of our ongoing partnership with the City of Bremerton,” said Bremerton School District Superintendent Aaron Leavell. “We’ve received a lot of feedback from parents and staff about the need for touchscreen devices for our kindergarten students. The City’s purchase of these devices is going to make a huge difference in the educational experience for our youngest learners. These devices, as well as additional Wi-Fi hotspots, helps us fulfill our mission to expand equity across the district and will ensure we can continue providing the services families and students rely on during the school week.”

 Additionally as part of the funding, the City of Bremerton is purchasing 150 portable Wi-Fi hotspots for those with no available internet. Another 24 Wi-Fi modules will be installed on buses. The City is also purchasing Wi-Fi antennas for district school buildings. While the district provides internal Wi-Fi connectivity, outside of district buildings there is very little signal. Adding external antennas on school buildings will provide a strong Wi-Fi signal offsite and into surrounding neighborhoods. These antennas will provide additional connection opportunities for students, their families and the community.  

Chromebooks and Wi-Fi Hotspots 
The breakdown of City of Bremerton funding to the Bremerton School District includes: 

  • Touchscreen Chromebooks: 450 devices will be purchased for kindergarteners and younger students in the Bremerton School District ($168,745 from the City’s CARES Act funding) 
  • Wi-Fi Signal Antennas: Antennas will be added to district school buildings to extend Wi-Fi signals into neighborhoods (estimated $25,000 from the City’s CARES Act funding) 
  • Bus Internet Hotspots: Wi-Fi modules will be installed on 24 buses for use by students in locations around the City ($29,777 from the City’s CARES Act funding)
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot Discs: 150 small portable Internet devices will be available for families with no internet access (estimated $36,000 from the City’s CARES Act funding) 

“The Bremerton School District has undertaken a herculean task to pivot to virtual classes for the beginning of the school year, which is the safest option until students can come to school in person,” said Mayor Wheeler. “This technology funding will help support these critical efforts for the immediate future.” 

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