McALLEN — The city and school district partnered to deploy 20 free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city to help residents stay connected despite physical distancing.
City officials announced the partnership via a news release Friday as McAllen Independent School District and others across the nation scramble to teach students from afar given the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.
“In our response to COVID-19, we are requiring children remain at home as the learning continues,” McAllen schools superintendent J. A. Gonzalez said. “Many of our families will benefit from access to a hotspot so they can stay in communication with their teacher, turn in work and continue with their education.”
McAllen previously spent about $2.4 million to install 60 miles of “high quality, high-speed fiber optic cable” to cover the entire city, the news release indicated. But, the project wasn’t complete, and that’s where the school district stepped in.
“McAllen I.S.D. made available the equipment necessary to connect to the fiber optic, to the City of McAllen, to make the connections possible to provide the Wi-Fi service,” the release stated.
McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez touted the partnership as an example of the “good things” local government entities can do when they work together.
“Alone, this project was too cost-prohibitive to make a reality for either the City of McAllen or McAllen I.S.D.,” he said. “But thanks to the great partnership that we have always had with M.I.S.D., we were able to fast-track this project to help all of our students continue with their academic education that is still so vital and necessary.”
The city’s Information Technology staff were busy installing the equipment throughout McAllen on Friday and they expected all spots to be operational by the end of day.
Most of those hotspots are located at parks across the city.
“Residents should be aware that all public restrooms in these parks have been locked to public access for health purposes,” city officials warned.
They also warned that there may be delays and lags as an entire nation attempts to access the same internet across the country.