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Lafayette Parish School Board Approves Internet Access to Northside Schools

Wifi 6 Mesh Network

The Lafayette Parish School Board voted unanimously to extend internet access to LPSS students through the Link & Learn initiative, and is one step closer to closing the educational digital divide for its students. The schools in phase one of the coverage area include Northside High School, David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy, and J.W. Faulk Elementary School.

The Link & Learn initiative makes learning opportunities available to all students, who would not otherwise have access to digital resources and learning opportunities. While the district has provided hotspots upon request for online learning, a robust internet service covering an entire geographical area to simultaneously give students online access 24 hours a day is the next phase of this initiative. Students will be able to engage in at-home learning and school assignments through filtered internet access for academic content. 

With the launch of this pilot program, LPSS will be the first entity to deploy an outdoor Wi-Fi 6 mesh network in the state, in the U.S., and according to our partners’ data - possibly the world. This is a tremendous undertaking that will bring LPSS one step closer to closing opportunity and academic gaps for the students we serve. 

Superintendent Irma Trosclair has been a champion of providing not only equitable education, but also equitable resources to all students from her first moment of joining LPSS. “One inequity that was  brought to the forefront as a result of the pandemic, is the fact that many students don’t have equitable access to digital learning opportunities. This pilot program through our Link & Learn initiative is just one more way that we are providing equitable opportunities for not only our students, but our teachers as well,” states Trosclair. 

The first phase of this outdoor mesh network will extend LPSS’s filtered internet connection for an approximate two-mile radius and reach roughly 1,100 students. The network will be fully launched in the 2022-2023 academic year. This initiative is made possible through the joint efforts of LPSS and community partners: the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation, the Pugh Family Foundation, InfoLink-USA, and LUS Fiber. LPSS is fortunate to have such supportive partners and a community-owned telecommunications company - LUS Fiber - to make this program possible. “The students of LPSS continue to have increased equitable opportunities for learning because of community leaders and board members who understand that academic gaps decrease only when opportunity gaps are addressed. On behalf of students and educators in our district, I thank our community partners and dedicated board members who continue to advocate for our students as it truly takes a village,” states Trosclair. 

Nick Pugh, co-founder of Pugh Family Foundation has been an integral partner with LPSS for a number of years. This announcement is special to him as he states, “this is a momentous occasion that is only the beginning of a multi-phase initiative that will connect our students now and into the future. This public-private partnership is an example of how the community can rally around our school system and provide solutions that impact our students.”

District 4 board member Dr. Tehmi Chassion who represents this area says, “To have the pilot program for this project encompass Holy Family Apartments makes me so happy! Having lived for six years in the same Section 8 housing over a decade ago, I can personally recall the difficulties two college grad parents had back then in providing consistent and quality internet during the formative years to our young daughter Autumn. Helping bridge this gap and linking kids to the internet so they can learn now takes me full circle. To have kids in our area be the first to experience this internet access, no matter the socioeconomic background, means the world to me. I would like to thank every single community member involved, the superintendent, and my fellow LPSS board members from the bottom of my heart! These are life-changing initiatives we are putting in place for OUR KIDS and OUR FUTURE!”

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