The Union R-XI School District hopes to make long-distance trips more productive for students this winter through newly Wi-Fi-equipped buses.

Four of Union’s activity buses, used for sports or other after school activities, are now equipped with Wi-Fi, giving students automatic connection to the internet through their Chromebooks.

Technology Coordinator Matt Jones said the buses are another step toward making students’ lives easier and more connected. He said the Wi-Fi option on activity buses will hopefully keep student athletes productive on their longer trips.

“Especially as we go into wintertime sports, some students may be traveling to district games up to two hours away,” Jones said. “This gives them the opportunity to get some work done on the bus if they take their Chromebook with them.”

The internet will work identically to the district’s internet connection, restricting certain sites and monitoring usage.

Jones said the program is a test to see how interested students are in having the Wi-Fi option. He said the district wanted to test the waters with this program as it’s a new concept and isn’t offered at any school in the surrounding area.

The buses are not only equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots, but also with cellular antennas to ensure students can keep a connection.

“Each of those buses are equipped with antennas in case they are traveling through poor reception areas,” Jones said. “That helps us ensure the buses have service, even if cellphones do not.”

A fifth bus is expected to be added to the list of Wi-Fi-capable buses soon, according to Jones.