‘Distance learning is going to be a challenge:’ School officials trying to close digital divide before start of school year


FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) –The rush to close the digital divide is more important now than ever as the first day of school creeps around the corner. 

State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond said ensuring every child receive a quality education online is his top priority.

“I think it goes without saying that there is nothing more important than helping our students prepare for what’s coming in just a few weeks,” said Thurmond. 

When the coronavirus pandemic started, it forced an estimated 97% of California’s 6.2 million students to resume their school year online.  

For many students who were forced to continue their education from home learning through a laptop or tablet became the new normal. 

“A big part of our ability to connect students in successful ways to distance learning means having access to devices and we know there has been a big rush and a demand on computing devices and hot spots,” said Thurmond.

Because a large majority of students will return to online learning for the start of the school year, Thurmond wants to ensure they have the proper electronics to learn from. 

Superintendent of Central Unified School District, Andrew Alvarado says the district is taking strides towards closing the digital divide.

Alvarado said this week students can schedule a time to check out a Chromebook and hot spot to get them ready for the first day of school August 12th. 

“So I was thinking during this time our kids are going to need some support obviously working from home and participating in distance learning is going to be a challenge,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado said to help students navigate through virtual learning for the start of the school year they came out with a new initiate to hold kids accountable for their school work. 

“Central for kids is a new initiative. Basically, we are going to partner a caring adult with each of our students district wide,” said Alvarado. 

Alvarado said this initiative is still new and they are working out all of the logistics but at this time they plan on having these caring adults check in with their students every week.

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