With nearly one in five San Diego County students “under-connected” or lacking adequate internet connections from home, distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be an arduous task.
The small community of Ocotillo Wells in unincorporated San Diego County, east of Borrego Springs along the county line, is just out of reach of most cell phone towers.
There, parents and students are working together to keep one another present in their daily virtual classrooms. Teachers are becoming IT experts. And the heads of school districts and the San Diego County Office of Education are partnering with technology companies, all with a common goal: how to close the deep digital divide across San Diego.
NBC 7’s “The Digital Divide: Connecting Students to School During COVID-19” is an in-depth look at the hurdles families are forced to face when it comes to continuing their children’s education amid an unprecedented health crisis.
You can watch “The Digital Divide” using the NBC 7 app on Apple TV and Roku. You can also watch the full special report below.
The San Diego County Office of Education says it is working to provide tech support to all the nearly 780 schools across the county.
“To say the least, we are swamped,” says Terry Loftus, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Technology Officer for the County Office of Education. “I would say we at the county level, and also in our district level, and charter school technology workers, are working harder than ever before.”
Loftus says nearly one-fifth of students in San Diego County need or needed help when it comes to having the proper equipment and ability to connect to the internet for school.
“At the start of the pandemic, our analysis showed that we had approximately 100,000 students, out of our over 500,000 (students) that were either not connected or were under-connected,” Loftus says in The Digital Divide. “The beautiful geographic diversity of our county has in a way worked against us, from the standpoint of connectivity.”
For more information on internet connectivity resources available for parents and students in San Diego County, click here.