Today, Governor Gavin Newsom reiterated that schools in California are not reopening this academic year given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that remote learning is accessible to all, California announced a partnership with Google to make available Chromebooks and Wi-Fi to students.
Many classrooms are now educating students via conferencing, videos, and other digital services. This requires strong internet access, with Google and California hoping to “bridge the digital divide.”
Google will provide 100,000 points of access to “improve Wi-Fi and broadband capacity.” This is specifically targeting rural households, with the unlimited and “high-quality” connectivity being free of charge for at least three months.
This will likely take the shape of Mi-Fi units purchased from existing carriers, and distributed to those impacted. In addition to Wi-Fi, Google will also be providing 4,000 Chromebooks “to California students in greatest need.”
According to Newsom, this move “will help [California] substantially address the digital divide issues, the rural issues, the equity issues that are at play.”
Proud to work with @GavinNewsom & partners to help bridge the digital divide in our home state. We’re providing 4,000 Chromebooks to California students in greatest need & free wifi to 100,000 rural households during the #COVID19 crisis to make distance learning more accessible.
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) April 1, 2020
This is just the latest partnership between California and Silicon Valley amid the coronavirus. Google sister company Verily is working on drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites with the state’s Department of Public Health, while Facebook earlier this week announced that it’s funding transportation to get retired medical professionals back into the field.
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