Sheriff: May kids use your WiFi, please?

As public schools look to begin plans for continuing education, possibly by distant learning, they are seeking community help for access to internet for local students in order to complete their school work online.

PAYETTE COUNTY — With schools shut down due to novel coronavirus COVID-19, state education boards on both sides of the Snake River have directed school districts to develop and deploy distance learning options for their students. The problem is that not every student, even those with smart devices of their own, has wireless internet access in their home, according to the Payette County Sheriff.

That’s why the Sheriff’s Office and the Payette County Emergency Management Office are reaching out to business owners across Payette County, asking them to lend access to their WiFi networks to those students without access at home.

In an email to area businesses, Lt. Andy Creech extended this appeal for access:

“The public schools in Payette County are beginning to plan for the continuation of education in our communities. They have been looking for online solutions to help the school year continue after spring break. They are looking for businesses or public facilities that will allow students to use in order to upload assignments.”

Creech said in a phone interview on March 26 that area internet service providers have been unable to keep up with demand for new service. He has thus reached out to area businesses for access, especially those shuttered by Gov. Little’s Stay-Home order, to which he said several businesses in Fruitland and Payette have already offered to do so. He has not named those businesses at this time, as his office is still working to prepare an announcement regarding those businesses.

Creech asks when such access is granted that kids remain in their vehicles while using it, in order to prevent the spread of COVID.

Businesses wishing to offer access to their WiFi networks may reach out to the Emergency Management Office via email at PCEM@payettecounty.org or by phone at (208) 642-6006 ext. 1186.

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