Are you familiar with the scale and scope of the digital divide in Marin County? The significant and rapid increase in virtual learning due to the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of internet and computer access for families and youth. Unfortunately, we are seeing a highly uneven distribution of digital access across the county — a phenomenon called the digital divide. The digital divide is consistently lifted up as one of the largest barriers and inequities facing our community for students and families during this crisis. Without equitable access to a device, reliable and affordable internet, other tech support (printers, etc.) and technological know-how, some Marin students will be harmed academically through no fault of their own.
Now more than ever we need 100% of our students to have access to everything they need to succeed!
Not every student in Marin County has access to a computer and strong enough Internet connection to fully participate in online education, and the COVID-19 situation has made this an imperative. Worse… 6% of Marin County Households do not even have a computer or portable device that a student could use to participate in online education (11% in Marin City and 20% in the Canal district).
What’s Happening to Ensure All Students are Connected
Digital Marin is a cross-sector collaboration between residents and government, education, nonprofit, business, and other sectors to develop a countywide roadmap for achieving these goals:
- Everyone in Marin has access to high quality, affordable internet and knows how to use it.
- Our networks and connections can survive a disaster.
- Communities are better served through data sharing and collaborative services.
- Online services are easy to use and work for people.
800 Students are now using mobile hotspots provided through the Marin County Free Library for distance learning.
The devices allow students to access the internet as long as they have a cell signal, and the support has been vital for school districts. The project cost $350,000, offset by donations from the Marin Community Foundation and grants from internet service providers. Stakeholders in the Marin Promise Partnership helped distribute the devices (Learn More).
The Library is now also providing a Popup Teen Study & Distance Learning Space for Teens of Essential Workers. This popup learning site is designed to provide continued learning support in a fun and safe space for teens whose parents are responding to this public health crisis, as part of the Marin County Emergency Popup Childcare Program (Learn More).
Developing Story: 750 Students are now using mobile hotspots provided by San Rafael City Schools. This brings total hotspots in the county to 1,550.
Stay tuned for more information…
San Rafael City Schools distributed 800 Chromebook laptops to San Rafael and Terra Linda high school students, as well as 400 laptops to middle-schoolers (Learn More).
Zach Quaintance, TECHWIRE
June 20, 2020
San Rafael is in the process of launching a new mesh Wi-Fi network for one of its most densely populated neighborhoods, doing so as a response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The overarching goal is to ensure that residents there — particularly students — are able to get online. (Learn More).