Wichita State has purchased 150 cellular hotspots to loan to students and instructors without reliable internet access at home. These portable devices can provide WiFi for a number of different devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
WSU is converting all classes to an online-only format for the remainder of the semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Campus isn’t closing, but students are being encouraged to stay home if they can.
“We’ve heard that both students and faculty/staff may have limited or no internet access,” Provost Rick Muma wrote in an email late Tuesday evening.
Muma said he does not yet know when the hotspots will be delivered. WSU has also purchased 200 Chromebooks and 200 laptops to loan to students and instructors who don’t have the technology they need to access online classes.
“For students, we ask that the colleges submit the request for such a device in coordination with the effort to distribute needed Chromebooks,” Muma wrote.
“Like the laptops/Chromebooks, this will be a limited supply when received and is not intended for those with existing internet access available.”
Muma said on Monday that he wasn’t sure how many students may be stranded without internet, and encouraged them to reach out to their department chairs and deans if they had concerns.
“Basically, we’re dealing with these as a one-off as they come to us, and we’ll try to help the students as best we can,” he said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall offered a more grim outlook on Monday.
“If students are some place where they don’t have access to the internet and don’t still want to come on campus because they want to be safe, then they’re going to probably have to withdraw from the class,” Hall said.
Last Friday, Interim Chief Information Officer David Miller told The Sunflower that WSU could do very little to help students without reliable internet access at home.
“The reality is, we’re not going to be able to solve every problem for everybody. That’s just the honest answer,” Miller said.