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Update: Free Wi-Fi Drive Up Locations Offered to Public

In an age where the Internet is ubiquitous and essential, it’s also a reality that a considerable percentage of Bladen County public school students lack an Internet connection at home.

Star Communications in partnership with Bladen County Schools is opening public Wi-Fi spots at several of its school campuses.

Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker announced the free drive-up Wi-Fi services by Star Communication will be offered at the following locations:

  • Tar Heel Middle School
  • West Bladen High School
  • East Bladen High School
  • Bladenboro Middle School
  • East Arcadia Elementary School
  • Bladen Lakes Primary School
  • Clarkton School of Discovery
  • Bladen Community College
  • Elizabethtown Farmers Market

Star Communications started installing these hotspots on Monday, March 23. Star Communications anticipates all the Wi-Fi hotspot locations will be up and running by Wednesday, March 25, but services may not be fully accessible until March 30, according to Valerie Newton with Bladen County Schools.

“This will help expand options for our students who are trying to access remote learning and is an example of the collaborative and creative problem-solving that is needed to ensure all students have the basic accessibility needed,” said Jason Atkinson, director of technology and curriculum and instruction for Bladen County Schools.

The public Wi-Fi will allow students to connect to the Internet from the parking lot of the school and continue learning while North Carolina schools are closed.  The program is intended to help BCS students access online resources at home to help bridge the digital divide and ensure educational equity.

The Wi-Fi at these locations will be accessible from 8:00AM-9:00PM.  A password will not be required to connect to the Internet.

Sheriff McVicker is asking citizens to please use COVID-19 safety precautions when utilizing these sites. These safety precautions include:

  • Please stay in your cars
  • Cars are to be a safe distance apart (no window-to-window parking)
  • No congregating of groups in parking lots outside of cars

When Wi-Fi is turned off at 9:00 pm each night there is to be no one on the premises.

“By installing public Wi-Fi spots, a simple, effective way to help address the digital inequity in our school system, more children will have the chance to learn and participate in remote learning,” said Superintendent Robert Taylor.

The County of Bladen would like to thank Star Communications for their support of our citizens and students during these uncertain times.

Star Telephone is a local internet, TV, and phone provider. The company announced on Tuesday there will be a total of 30 Wi-Fi hotspots between Bladen and Sampson Counites. The internet spots offered for Clinton and Sampson County Schools will be password protected.

Star provides services across a territory of over 1,458 square miles in five counties, a territory larger than the state of Rhode Island. Star is strategically installing Internet Wi-Fi hots spots throughout the service territory to limit the commute for students.

Jeffrey Nethercutt, Star’s General Manager and Executive Vice President, stated that Star will continue to install services into the foreseeable future. “We are working diligently to expand our broadband network using fiber-optic technology through the NC GREAT Grant and through the USDA Re-Connect Grant, which were both awarded to Star Communications. The final paperwork is currently being processed.”

“Star will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 and take measures as needed for our community, partners, students, customers, and employees,” stated Mr. Nethercutt.

Related article:

Meals and Internet Available for Students

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