BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Google and Berkeley County School District are launching South Carolina's first "Rolling Study Halls" initiative, providing WiFi access to hundreds of kids during their daily bus ride.
"A Rolling Study Hall is like an extended classroom. It addresses the needs of students that don't WiFi or Internet access in their home." Lilyn Hester, Google's Head of Southeast Public Affairs, said.
Hester said the pilot program at Berkeley County offers the district an opportunity to "bridge the digital divide."
The program allows kids who have commutes as long as an hour and a half to maximize the time between the classroom and home.
As part of the pilot program, 28 Berkeley County school buses serving six schools across St. Stephen and Cross communities are now equipped with WiFi.
The program focuses on Title 1 Schools, including Cross Elementary, Cross High School, JK Gourdin Elementary, St. Stephen Elementary School, St. Stephen Middle School, Timberland High School.
Google invested $180,000 for the initiative, also providing more than 1,700 students from those schools with backpacks with Chromebooks to participate in the Rolling Study Hall program.
St. Stephen Mayor John Rivers "It's huge because in a rural area like St. Stephen, most of our students don't have access to Internet or WiFi. You'd be surprised how many of our young people have never even left St. Stephen, this gives them a chance to explore and travel around the world without even leaving home."
"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 a press 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."