TEXARKANA, Texas — Liberty-Eylau Independent School District is now offering high-speed WiFi in the parking lots of the high school and the Rader Dome, both of which are accessible via Leopard Drive.
Matt Fry, the district's communications director, said the two long-range external high speed WiFi hotspots are to help those in the community who have slow, or no internet service available at their homes.
"Basically last summer we did a project and Technology Director Jason Brown secured grant funding through e-rate and we put in a fiber network for the whole district, so we have 5GB of internet service," he said. "We have two high powered antennas designed to reach to be able to deliver that high speed." Normally, when using the district's networks, passwords are required, but they are not required to connect to LEWIFI.
"Anybody that comes in those parking lots will be able to connect," he said. "It reaches a good distance and gives people access to that high-speed internet so if they need to do a ZOOM meeting or upload some work or download things or if their data is a little slow. We have a lot of rural areas out here that can't get high-speed internet, so this gives them a way to do that. We made it open to our community."
The connections are much needed now that students have been switched to off-campus and online studies when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered schools closed March 19 through April 3 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He later extended that time period and currently, the schools are set to re-open May 4. The governors of neighboring states Arkansas and Louisiana have ordered schools closed through the end of the school year.
For added security, the connection is monitored through a filtering program and Fry said users should use the connection appropriately.
"We have some backside security in place that monitors a lot of activity," he said.
L-EISD was ready to announce the new WiFi system in late March, right before Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell announced a shelter-in-place order in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order restricts residents from leaving their homes for non-essential and recreational purposes to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
"We were kind of waiting for guidance before we put anything out because we didn't want to cause problems by having people out, but once we determined that turning in schoolwork is an essential activity, they can do it from their car, they're not out mingling, that it would be okay," Fry said.
Liberty-Eylau High School is located at 2901 Leopard Drive.