Ector County ISD partners with SpaceX to provide internet access to students in need

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 10:59 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -

Students who live outside the city limits in Ector County have struggled with attending school virtually, but ECISD is changing that with the help of outer space exploration company SpaceX.

CBS7 spoke with one South Ector County family who says that help can’t come soon enough.

The Bustillos family spends a lot of time online. Their connection was okay when we met up but too many times these online classes freeze or simply shut off forcing these students to spend even more time trying to catch up.

“It’s stressful on them because it’s they get irritated and they’re like look I’m a whole day behind,” Andrea Bustillos said. “I don’t even have notes. I don’t understand this. I need help.”

That help may come to them soon.

“We’re having a vision that is bold, a vision that is brave and a vision that will bring today and the future of tomorrow to the children of Ector County,” ECISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri said at the announcement.

ECISD announced that SpaceX Starlink satellites will provide free broadband to 45 families in the pleasant farms area thanks to a partnership between SpaceX, the Permian Strategic Partnership and Chiefs for Change.

The district said more than a third of its students have poor or no broadband connection at all. The 90-day trial run is designed to give a boost to some of those students who can’t compete with their classmates simply because of where they live.

“We’re really focused on equity and equity is giving everybody a place at the table,” ECISD School Board President Delma Abalos said.

Bustillos said this is the only other option for families like hers. She said one of her daughters already caught and recovered from the coronavirus, but another has asthma, so she won’t risk sending her back into a crowded school.

“It was a big scare this time and if my other one who has asthma, she gets that, I mean, I don’t know how it’s going to go because everybody’s different,” she said.

The Bustillos family hopes they’ll be one of those chosen families Until then they’ll do what they can to keep their spirits and their signal strong.

ECISD said this is trial run is going to start in 2021 with those 45 families then expand to add 90 more.

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