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PSUSD using upgraded cellular service to provide free internet access to students in Sky Valley

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A cell phone tower in Sky Valley just completed a technology upgrade to provide more reliable internet access to people living in the area, including 78 families with children enrolled in schools in the Palm Springs Unified School District.

"The district's goal is that every single student have access to distance learning," said Will Carr, Director of Technology at PSUSD.

Carr says students living in Sky Valley are among the last of the district's 23,000 students to be brought online.

The students in the community are among the 18 percent of students district-wide receiving free internet access from PSUSD.

"Distance learning itself is very stressful new and unique and so not to have a strong internet connection or any internet connection at all is detrimental to the process," said Carr.

To help the district provide internet service to Sky Valley, T-Mobile awarded PSUSD a $600,000 grant.

The money is being used to cover the cost of 4,200 hundred hotspots, 3 months of internet service for students in the community and tower upgrades.

"Already in this past month alone we've helped get connectivity solutions in place for over half a million kids," said Mike Katz, Executive Vice President for T-Mobile.

Carr says he's also pushing for the installation of another "mini" cell tower or two in the community.

He says the cell service upgrades will not only benefit students, but also improve the overall quality of life for everyone who lives in Sky Valley.

"Sky Valley as you know is very rural. It is almost desolate in some spots and you might say and the cell coverage is just not that great out there," said Carr.

Carr and his team manage the district's 32,000 Chromebook and 700 new laptops recently sent out to teachers.

He says distance learning has been going "smoothly" since classes began last Wednesday.

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Tom Tucker

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