On Wednesday, Governor Newsom announced a partnership with Google to distribute Chromebook computers and mobile hotspots to assist students in rural areas struggling with distance learning during the COVID-19 related school closures. Google has committed to funding the equipment and service for 100,000 mobile hot-spots through the end of the school year, which will allow students in homes without dedicated broadband service to connect to the internet.
The Governor also announced an agreement between the statewide teacher associations, employee labor organizations, and education facility groups on a framework for distance learning, special education and meal delivery for students throughout the state. The Governor’s press release can be found here.
On March 4, 2020 the Governor issued an Executive Order allowing school districts to receive continued funding during COVID-19 related school closures and directed that the money be utilized for distance learning and associated support for continued education. By March 17th, the Administration reported that ninety-nine percent of all public schools were closed, leaving six million students, nearly 700,000 in RCRC member counties, without a physical classroom for education. On March 19th the Governor issued a statewide shelter-in-place order, effectively closing all schools in the state. Through discussion with the Administration, RCRC staff has advocated for mitigation strategies, including a mobile hotspot lending program, to assist students that lack reliable internet access. RCRC will continue to advocate for additional support for student and teachers in member counties that are unable to utilize distance learning due to lack of broadband connectivity.