Apr 8, 2020

Versailles, Ky. – What happens in a mostly rural state like Kentucky when all universities and community colleges ask students to learn remotely? It may sound like no big deal in the 21st Century, but for those who have no access to broadband, it’s a real problem. Enter the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) with a solution — Wi-Fi hotspots.

Parking lots on most of the 16 college campuses now offer Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots are open to anyone who wants to sign in as a guest, and many people do each day. In fact, there are times when KCTCS sees as many as 1,300 people an hour using the hotspots.

Additionally, KCTCS has made all of its libraries accessible online to anyone who needs them.

"You can’t go into the library, but you can pull into the parking lot, download your book and go home, all while staying safe," Kenneth Burdine, associate chief information officer, said.

Colleges also are providing as many laptops and desktop computers as possible for students who need them. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Hazard Community and Technical College President Jennifer Lindon said her college has given almost every laptop they have to students.

The KCTCS colleges are stepping up in other ways to help their students and their communities during this unprecedented time. For example, faculty and staff at all 16 KCTCS colleges are calling students to check on their well-being. This allows them to assess student needs and motivate them to finish the semester.

Colleges are donating personal protective equipment to health care facilities, providing food through pantries and partnerships with grocery stores, and offering their labs to bioscience research firms.

Providing internet access is just one more example of how the colleges are assisting people in their communities.

"In the chaos that COVID-19 virus has brought to our nation, I am proud of how KCTCS has offered this outreach of caring to our communities across the state," Burdine said.