Cellular hotspots are now available to the public in parking lots at four Charles County public schools.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), in partnership with AT&T FirstNet, has purchased and placed public access WiFi cellular hotspots at Piccowaxen Middle School, Matthew Henson Middle School, Mt. Hope Nanjemoy Elementary School and T.C. Martin Elementary School. CCPS chose the hotspot locations using information from its recent student technology survey, Comcast and Verizon hotspot maps, and a recent broadband survey county government conducted to determine the areas in highest need.
“CCPS created the hotspots to support both the needs of our students and staff as well as members of the community. Service is free to the public and CCPS will keep the hotspots active throughout the public health crisis,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill said.
Internet users can park in the front parking lot of the schools, remain in their cars, and complete essential work on the internet, Jason Stoddard, director of school safety and security, said. The hotspots will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Stoddard said the school system is asking that users do not use the hotspots to stream videos.
CCPS uses video surveillance to monitor parking lots and the exteriors of all school buildings. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office will also regularly patrol the areas around schools. Schools are closed to the public, but critical staff members are still working.
CCPS is using grant funds provided by the Maryland Center for School Safety to cover the initial costs of the project. The CCPS offices of instructional technology, transportation, and school safety and security worked to complete the project within a week.
“This is a temporary solution to provide access to our communities who don’t have internet access capabilities or a large amount of nearby public access hotspots,” Hill said. CCPS is continuing to work with AT&T FirstNet to increase signal strength and bandwidth throughout the deployment.
The CCPS instructional technology team is working on a more permanent solution for public access WiFi at schools located in or near school communities with the most need.
Directions to access the hotspot
- Pull into the front parking lot
- Open your WiFi connection or Network connection screen
- Look for the network name “Public Access”
- The network password is CharlesCounty (one word, the letter C is capitalized both times). A password is necessary so Apple devices can connect.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.