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UPDATED: GWATA and NCRL Bring Internet To Students

You may have heared that we are partnering with GWATA (Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance) to buy 50 new T-Mobile wireless internet hotspots that will eventually be available for the community to check out through our libraries.

For the next several weeks, however, these hotspot devices will be made exclusively available to Wenatchee School District students who need access to the internet to complete their school work for the duration of the school year.

We know you have lots of questions about this exciting new program. We will answer a few of your most frequently asked questions here:

Are hotspots available right now?

As much as we would love to be checking out hotspots to the public, our libraries and Mail Order Library are currently closed. We were approached by the Wenatchee School District and GWATA to partner with them to distribute hotspots to students in need of internet. NCRL loaned 40 hotspots for this cause and GWATA purchased 50 additional hotspots for WSD students. Currently, the estimated shipping time for T-Mobile hotspots is up to two months, as they have become extremely popular, so we are unable to acquire more at this time.

How do I get a mobile hotspot?
Once WSD students are finished using the hotspots (mid-late summer), all 90 will be available to be checked out at any NCRL branch.

How to Wenatchee School District students get one of these hotspots?

If you have a WSD student who is in need of a hotspot, please contact WSD IT Director, Ron Brown at brown.r@wenatcheeschools.org.

If you have questions regarding NCRL's hotspot program, please contact the STEM Services Manager, Heather Inczauskis, at hinczauskis@ncrl.org

As students transition to online learning during the extended school closure, internet connectivity is the key to unlocking access to virtual classrooms, said Wenatchee Superintendent Dr. Paul Gordon. 

“With over 60% of our students living in poverty, there are a significant number of students who lack internet at home," Gordon said. "The need for connectivity is great and through this public-private partnership, we’re taking steps to address this challenge and ensure our students have the access necessary to continue their education.”

In addition to GWATA’s 50 hotspots, our library district plans to supply 40 hotspots already in our collection to support Wenatchee students as well. For the past several months, we have been piloting a T-Mobile hotspot check-out program at several of our libraries. While we already provide free internet access through both public-access computers and open WiFi network at our libraries, those services are limited to patrons who visit our physical library branches. Through the mobile hotspot program, we are able to address additional needs from the community, such as children who need the internet for schoolwork at home, or location-based usage like accessing the web on agricultural sites.

“We are excited for this partnership with GWATA because it will allow NCRL to make a greater impact and continue to bridge the digital access gap that we see across the region,” Inczauskis said. “The community can expect these hotspots to be available this summer for check out across all of our 30 library branches in North Central Washington.”

Community members can support this hotspot program by visiting www.gwata.org/donate to make a one-time or recurring donation. For questions, please contact GWATA at info@gwata.org to reach the team directly during this time.

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