Community partnership uses school buses to provide free internet access in Perry County, Mo.

Community partnership uses school buses to provide free internet access in Perry County, Mo.
Perry County’s public schools partnered with community agencies and service providers to offer free internet access to the community using school buses. (Source: Perry County School District 32)

PERRY COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - Perry County’s public schools partnered with community agencies and service providers to offer free internet access to the community using school buses.

A lack of broadband access impacted county schools when Governor Mike Parson announced on April 9 the cancellation of in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.

“The impetus for this project was the closure of schools in Perry County due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dan Querry, technology director at District 32. “We have a significant percentage of local families who do not have easy access to internet, which limits their ability to participate in online learning and social activities. Simply put, we have children who cannot continue their education during closures unless they can conveniently connect to free internet.”

The partnership includes District 32, Altenburg Public School, City of Perryville, Perry County Government, Perry County Economic Development Authority, SEMO Regional Planning Commission, Perry County Heritage Tourism, Ozark Vitality and Big River Communications.

Big River is providing unlimited internet service at each of the bus hotspots at no charge.

The schools are providing the buses, and the locations are providing the electricity at no charge.

Locations include:

  • Altenburg Public School, 8432 Main Street in Altenburg
  • The Spillway, 14782 Hwy T near Lake Perry
  • St. Joseph Catholic Church, 2640 Hwy K in Highland
  • Christ The Savior Catholic Church, 17 Shady Lane in Brewer
  • St. Maurus Catholic Church, 10198 Hwy B in Biehle
  • Grace Lutheran Church, 53 Grace Lane in Uniontown
  • Zion Lutheran Church, 6483 S. Kingshighway in Longtown

The wireless network name is “Big River Hotspot." The password is “PerryCounty.” District 32-issued devices will connect automatically.

“Each of these hotspots will allow parents to park in the lot for students to log on to the internet to download and upload assignments,” Querry said. “These locations are not intended to support streaming, and the speed will vary depending on the number of people logged on at each location.”

If you have issues with the wifi, you can complete a form by clicking here or leaving a message at 573-547-7500, ext. 102. Someone from the Perry County School District will reach out to you.

“Each of these hotspots will allow parents to park in the lot for students to log on to the internet to download and upload assignments,” Querry said. “These locations are not intended to support streaming, and the speed will vary depending on the number of people logged on at each location.”

The group said its next step is to apply for funding through a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

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