Family Technology Information: Internet Access

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Updated 10/5/2020

Last year, SFUSD distributed more than 3,500 Hotspots to students in grades 3rd-12th to provide Internet access for distance learning. Any returning student who already has an Internet Hotspot should notice that it is still working and can continue using it this year! Any student who already has an internet service at home should rely on that.

Families who do not have internet access at their residence can request to borrow a Hotspot from SFUSD. If you live in a San Francisco public housing community, you may have access to free Internet/WiFi. Please visit the City’s Fiber to Housing Program website to learn more about Internet/WiFi availability in your community.

To request a hotspot, beginning Monday, October 5th, families will need to complete the Online Technology Request Form available in ParentVUE, in order to submit their request for a new device or an exchange. To do so, families must have an active Family Portal (ParentVUE) account.

  • If you haven’t activated yet, please contact your school site for an activation key and follow the steps. You can activate your ParentVUE account at sfusd.edu/activate.
  • Login to your ParentVUE account at portal.sfusd.edu and click on “Online Forms.”
  • You can find step-by-step instructions for completing the Online Technology Request Form and a recorded video example at bit.ly/SFUSDtechrequestguide.

Technology distribution will be coordinated by your child’s school. Your school will respond to your submitted requests to coordinate the technology distribution.

Hotspots use a cellular signal to provide Internet, and might not be effective in every SF neighborhood. If your cell phone coverage at home is too weak, a hotspot probably won’t provide a good internet connection for you, so you might do better to investigate some of the other internet options listed below.

All students and families who borrow SFUSD technology for distance learning must abide by the Technology User Agreement. Violations of the agreement may result in disciplinary action or a discontinuation of technology access.

 

District-Sponsored Offerings

Hotspots - mobile internet access

If you are an SFUSD student who received a district-issued hotspot: 

Hotspot Guidelines:

  • Hotspots are provided 1 per household as it supports up to 5 devices.
  • There is no data limit on the hotspot. 
  • Internet service through a hotspot is reliant on cellular coverage. Many factors can impact the speed and quality of internet service on a hotspot. SFUSD has limited capacity to troubleshoot wifi connectivity issues with hotspots.

Comcast Internet Essentials

In lieu of a hotspot, to support students in distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has partnered with Comcast’s Internet Essentials program to offer 8 months of free internet access to eligible SFUSD students and their families.  Parents/Guardians have until October 30, 2020, to complete the application with a district-provided promo code, to receive this 8-month offer. Learn more about Comcast Internet Essentials. 

Additional Offerings for Free/Low-Cost Internet Service

In support of our efforts, several Internet providers are offering free options to SFUSD families. These options are available now:

  • Comcast Free WiFi - Free wifi access in San Francisco, primarily near business areas. Search by zipcode to see available access near your residence
  • Sonic - Free for 3 months for new customers 
  • Comcast Internet Essentials - Free for 2 months for new customers. $9.95/month after the first 2 months
  • AT&T - Free for 2 months for new customers. $10/month after the first 2 months
  • Monkeybrains - $35/month with no installation for SFUSD families and teachers

While neither SFUSD nor the City of San Francisco endorses these providers, families can visit sf.gov/get-online-during-coronavirus-outbreak to learn about eligibility and to apply for access.

Families can also search for low-cost Internet options in their neighborhood at EveryoneOn.org.