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When COVID-19 forced NPS to shut its doors in March 2020, the entire technology department quickly mobilized to ensure learning continuity--including internet access for all students.

Navajo Prep prioritizes internet access for all students


When COVID-19 forced NPS to shut its doors in March 2020, the entire technology department quickly mobilized to ensure learning continuity

Never before have educators been challenged and tested as they were, beginning in March 2020 and up until today, and never before has their resilience been more apparent. Administrators, technology leaders, classroom teachers, and educators in all roles have persevered as they taught each and every one of their students during a global pandemic.

The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards program, sponsored by Trox, recognizes the determined efforts of these educators and highlights their exemplary efforts and dedication to teaching and learning.

Discover more about Navajo Preparatory School, one of the eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards winners:

Nominee: Navajo Preparatory School

Nominated by: Michael Flood, Kajeet

What makes this nominee a hero?

Navajo Preparatory School (NPS) is the only Navajo-sanctioned college-preparatory school for Native American students. Through its rigorous, innovative curriculum as well as its commitment to instilling a deep appreciation of the Navajo Language, culture, and history in its students, NPS is providing opportunities to and shaping the futures of Native students.

When COVID-19 forced NPS to shut its doors in March 2020, the entire technology department quickly mobilized to ensure learning continuity in a completely virtual environment. This proved especially challenging as its student population spans the whole Navajo reservation, including some of the most rural areas of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.

The first step was to ensure every student had access to safe, reliable internet connectivity. For those without fixed broadband internet access at home, this meant immediately dispersing Wi-Fi hotspots. However, not every student knew which wireless network worked best for them. In these situations, the technology department faculty members would drive out to a student’s home to physically test different carriers. When no networks were available, faculty did on-site roof-mounted cellular antenna installations. Satellite installations were completed when the exterior cellular antennas were not successful.

In most cases, traveling to a student’s home was no easy feat. Some students lived as far as three hours away or in remote areas with no listed address, which meant faculty had to rely on GPS coordinates to find their home. And with some students living off dirt roads, it was not uncommon for faculty members to get stuck in the mud as they navigated to or from a student’s home.

In traveling to students’ homes, faculty quickly became aware of the challenges students faced balancing schoolwork with home responsibilities, and how much they relied on the school for food and education supplies. To support students, NPS would use school buses equipped with Wi-Fi to run weekly routes to deliver a week’s worth of dry food as well as art supplies, books, laptops, and other educational materials.

At the end of the school year, the coordinated and heroic effort by Navajo Preparatory School ensured students had the resources they needed to thrive, both online and at home.

To support the multi-carrier connectivity needs of a dispersed student population, NPS turned to Kajeet. Kajeet SmartSpots, Wi-Fi hotspots designed for students, are compatible with all major North American wireless networks, meaning students in need could pick the best network based on their specific location. Additionally, Kajeet provided the Wi-Fi for NPS school buses, enabling students at the beginning of the pandemic to use the bus Wi-Fi to download or send large files until Kajeet was able to offer unlimited data plans.

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Laura Ascione

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