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Google brings Wi-Fi to Berkeley County school buses

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Elected officials, business leaders, Google employees and Berkeley County students gathered Monday at St. Stephen Middle School to unveil the state’s first Rolling Study Hall initiative. (Photo/Provided)

Google, which operates a data center in Berkeley County, has invested $180,000 to equip 28 school buses with Wi-Fi to help students work on projects or finish homework during lengthy commutes, according to a news release.

Studies have shown that students lacking internet access at home are at a disadvantage regarding finishing homework and studying during after-school hours, causing some of them to fall behind.

Along with the Wi-Fi access, Google also donated more than 1,700 Chromebooks for students as part of the Rolling Study Hall initiative. (Photo/Provided)The pilot program brings supervised Wi-Fi accessibility to 28 Berkeley County school buses serving six Title I schools: Cross Elementary School, Cross High School, JK Gourdin Elementary, St. Stephen Elementary, St. Stephen Middle School and Timberland High.

More than 1,700 students also received backpacks with Chromebooks as part of Google’s Rolling Study Hall initiative. Teachers will board the buses after school to help students with homework or coding activities.

“Not everything can be covered during the school day, and all students can benefit from additional help outside the classroom,” State Superintendent Molly Spearman said in the release. “Google’s Rolling Study Hall initiative is an innovative approach that allows bus riders to have connectivity and support to complete their assignments. I look forward to watching the success of this pilot in Berkeley and seeing how it can be replicated in other areas of the state.”

Google launched the program in Caldwell County, N.C., last year. Teachers reported increased proficiencies, with reading up 6%, math up 3.6% and science up 2%.

Program funds went to the Berkeley County School District, the College of Charleston Foundation and the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation.

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