GREENSBORO, N.C. - A handful of Guilford County Schools are linking with the Sprint 1Million Project to give students free smart phones so they can access the internet at home.
The project will give 2,500 smart phones to eligible GCS ninth-graders in 14 schools who have limited or no internet access at home. The students will be able to use the phones and 3 GB data plans through their senior year in high school. They can also be used as a hotspot to connect other devices to the internet.
Participating schools are:
- Andrews High
- Doris Henderson Newcomers School
- Dudley High
- Eastern High
- Greene Education Center
- High Point Central High
- Kearns Academy at Central
- Middle College at Bennett
- Middle College at North Carolina A&T State University
- Page High
- Pruette SCALE
- SCALE Greensboro
- Smith High
“This opportunity will help students connect to resources they may need outside of school, such as our Brainfuse online homework help and other materials,” says Chief of Staff Nora Carr. “We want to find new ways provide students with greater access to the digital world.”
Guilford County Schools says there are no required costs to participate. The funding comes from Sprint, and the Sprint Foundation. The Sprint Carolina's Region President, Michael Miess, issued a statement on the project:
“Far too many students, including our kids in Greensboro, struggle every day to get their homework done and keep up in school because they do not have internet access at home. Sprint is proud of this initiative and we’re honored to do what we can to help close the Homework Gap for students throughout North Carolina.”
Before students can participate, parents will need to sign off on it. Parents at the participating schools will receive more information about the project after traditional schools start on Aug. 28. The devices will be distributed to students at the end of September.
Students will get 3 GB of data per month free on the high-speed network. If they go over, things will slow down considerably, and if they run out of data that month, students will have to wait until the following month to get access again. GCS representatives says the system won't pay of additional data plans.
When it comes to blocks on the phones, or restrictions to what students can access, GCS says the devices come with content filters compliant with the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA). However, they say no filters are foolproof - and they encourage parents to talk with their students about what's an appropriate use for the phone.
Other districts participating in the program include: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Nash-Rock Mount Schools, Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, Buncombe County Schools, Rockingham County Schools, Pitt County Schools, and Cumberland County Schools.