Clackamas County to Open Carus, Ninety-One Schools as Free WiFi Hotspots

Starting Monday, Canby High School’s parking lot will be a free WiFi hotspot from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The free wireless, which is intended to be used by all district students who need it, was a creative effort by the school’s technology department to solve the problem of a number of district families not having reliable access to distance learning resources on the internet.

And, it appears, more is on the way. Clackamas County has announced their plans to bring free WiFi to the parking lots of two more district schools — Carus Elementary and Ninety-One School — in the coming weeks.

The county says their effort, which began with a hotspot at the fire station in Government Camp that just came online, is an effort to ensure residents hace access to reliable internet during the ongoing stay-home orders that have closed most other indoor hotspots such as libraries, cafes and restaurants.

The hotspots the county are building have a range of about 200 feet and are designed to allow individuals parked within range to access high-speed, reliable internet, free of charge. Each one will be located at a place with ample parking.

The county will also be creating such hotspots at Welches School in Welches, Firwood Elementary in Sandy and Boring Middle School in Boring, with other sites to be added later. Each project is being completed with the support of the partnering school district.

A tentative schedule for when the hotspots will come online is expected to be posted on the website of the Clackamas Broadband Exchange early next week.

In the press release, Commissioner Ken Humberston said the Board of Commissioners recognized that “a real need exists for those who lack reliable internet connectivity” — particularly in rural and underserved parts of the county.

“The necessary closures of businesses, schools and libraries shines an even brighter spotlight on the digital divide in our society and county,” he said. “With these WiFi hotspots, Clackamas County is doing what it can immediately to give online access to those who need it.”

This initiative is part of the Clackamas Broadband Exchange program, which provides high-speed fiber broadband service to Clackamas County. The county is also working in conjunction with different internet service providers, or ISPs, to achieve connectivity at each spot.

No passwords will be needed at any of the hotspots.

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