CBS SF BayArea Article by: Emily Turner
San Rafael is rushing to close the digital divide by installing a Wi-Fi network in its Canal District in time for the start of school.
The Canal district is a low income area with about 2,000, mostly Latinx school children that has suffered from substandard infrastructure for years. We live in a digital age, but for many living in the Canal District of San Rafael, they’re living in a digital black hole, and nowhere more so than in the new world of remote learning.
“Covid exacerbated the educational divide, because immediately schools went to online learning and online learning not only broadband but enough broadband,” Marin County’s Chief Assistant Director Javier Trujillo said.
The lack of connectivity has long been a problem in the majority LatinX neighborhood, but now, it means the difference between whether or not a child can go to school. So an alliance of city and county government as well as private companies and nonprofits like the Canal Alliance is building a wifi mesh network for the neighborhood.
“Your children are your top priority. We have so many dedicated parents that just want to see their children succeed,” Air Gallegos, Canal Alliance’s educational director, said, “And to not be able to have the resources around you to make that happen is extremely hard.”
More than 2,000 school children are expected to be able to access the network, proponents say. Other residents will be able to access the network for services such as unemployment, rental assistance and information on the latest health orders.
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