Prince George’s County Public Schools says next month it will disconnect mobile internet hot spots that have kept thousands of students connected to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic after the devices were recalled as a fire risk.
The school system is asking parents to return the Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack hot spot devices, along with the battery and charger, to their schools by June 15. That’s the final day of classes for students. The devices will be disconnected June 16, the school system said in a news release Tuesday.
New hot spot devices will be issued again at the start of the next school year for families that need them, the school system said. If students need the devices for summer school, they can exchange the old devices for new ones starting next month.
The Verizon hot spots, which were imported by Franklin Wireless in San Diego, were the subject of a nationwide recall issued April 8 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The safety commission said the device’s lithium ion batteries can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards. Out of the 2.5 million units sold, there have been 15 reports of devices overheating, including six reports of fire damage to bedding or flooring and two reports of minor burn injuries.
Several hundred thousand of the devices were purchased by school systems across the country.
Prince George’s County said last month the Ellipsis Jetpack devices constituted nearly all of the 5,000 hot spots issued by the school system and provided the sole means of internet access for between 2,500 to 3,000 families.
If students need to keep using their hot spots for the rest of the school year, they are urged to follow online instructions for downloading software updates to the device.
Among guidance for making sure the devices don’t overheat, when they aren’t being used, the hot spots should be turned off and unplugged from the power source.
Hot spot exchanges cannot be made at schools.
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Sign up for WTOP’s coronavirus email newsletter
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus vaccine FAQ: What you need to know
- Latest vaccination numbers in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Montgomery Co. council eases indoor mask rules for fully vaccinated
- FCPS opens COVID-19 vaccine registration at some high schools for students 12-18