Digital Divide Stymies South Bay Students Amid Pandemic: Report

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GILROY, CA — Distance learning presents challenges even amid the best of circumstances.

But for many Gilroy Unified School District students who despite living in the backyard of the world’s epicenter of technology, being on the wrong side of the digital divide has made a difficult situation nearly impossible, The Gilroy Dispatch reports.

Internet connectivity issues and substandard computers issued to students in anticipation of distance learning amid the coronavirus crisis have combined to leave many students behind.

Approximately 300 families in a rural swath of southern Santa Clara County are without internet access according to the report, which cites Comite Para La Justia, an advocacy group that’s working to bridge the digital divide.

Rosanna Alvarez, a supporter of the group, told The Dispatch that she believes the District is out of touch with the realities confronting students who don’t have the tools to keep up with basic educational requirements, let alone compete with students living in some of the county’s well-heeled communities.

“While it may not be the district’s responsibility to install wifi hotspots to ensure that every child has access to their education,” Alvarez said, “it is also worth noting that we are at week 7 of the school year and we still have families in Gilroy with no access, who are being written off as disengaged.”

Alvaro Meza, an assistant superintendent of business services said the District is applying for a grant to fund efforts to improve connectivity issues, the report said.

“No one single entity can solve this problem,” Meza told The Dispatch.

“Here’s an example of us continuing to work with the county office of education and with the city and their partners to see what can be done in certain pockets of Gilroy.”

Additionally, Meza said the board of education will recommend the purchase