In an effort to provide better access to technology for its students, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is now offering Wi-Fi at all Tribal school locations. This includes six elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school on Tribal lands. The Tribe utilized CARES Act funding to complete the project.
“Our overriding commitment is to equip our students with the tools they need to succeed, and access to the Internet certainly is an important one,” says Sherry Tubby, Assistant Director of Choctaw Tribal Schools. “We evaluated several options to find the most cost-effective and timely way to offer Wi-Fi access, and ultimately decided to install hotspots at each of our school facilities.”
External hotspots are being placed at each of the Tribal schools. With a range of 400 yards, these provide access for anyone in the building as well as a substantial distance outside of the building. This will serve the schools whether they begin the school year with in-person instruction, or if shelter-in-place orders require the district to utilize distance learning. Firewall protections are in place so that students can’t connect to inappropriate sites, whether indoors or outdoors on school property.
“Because COVID-19, our plans for the fall are uncertain,” says David Germany, Director of Choctaw Tribal Schools. “We are working hard to determine whether we can bring our students back to school physically. Either way, this Wi-Fi access is a positive step, because students can sync to the Internet from the parking lot if they need to. That will help those students who don’t have broadband access at their homes.”
He adds, “The fast-track installation of the Wi-Fi network was coordinated by Elray King, Tribal Schools Network Administrator, who worked tirelessly to complete its implementation.”
Choctaw Tribal schools are also working towards a goal of providing every student with a digital device that can assist with homework or distance learning. These devices include laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads, and are determined by grade as to which device is utilized. School administrators are also training parents and students to use Google Classroom, which Tubby says will be useful for in-person as well as distance learning.
As one of the United States’ original first nations, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the only federally recognized American Indian tribe living within the State of Mississippi. With over 11,000 members, Choctaw lands cover over 35,000 acres in 10 counties. Providing permanent, full-time jobs for over 5,000 Tribal-member and non-Indian employees, the Tribe is a major contributor to the state’s economy.
Release from Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.