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Schools: The New Normal | State, New York City Make Moves To Bridge Digital Divide For Remote Learning

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The digital divide has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

But on Tuesday, state and city leaders made moves to bridge the gap, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

For working mom and full time graduate student Regina Alston of the Bronx, every day is a struggle.

MOREDigital Divide: NYC Department Of Education Says More Devices For Students Won't Arrive For At Least Another Month

She said remote learning for her 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son with special needs has been nearly impossible because their internet connection is weak and she can't afford an upgrade.

So her children are logging on at a friend's home with better service.

"First, she was locked out of the iPad. Then there was a lot of connectivity issues. The Wi-Fi would go down, and they kind of feel helpless and just want to give up," Alston said.

However, there is hope. State legislators introduced the E-Learn Act on Tuesday.


The bill would provide free high-quality broadband to every student and school in the state during the pandemic, and discounted service to students who already have broadband.

"Every child, whether in full remote, hybrid or in-school learning, must have quality broadband in order to be educated. You simply cannot learn without it. You can't do homework without it. And yet, too many of our students don't have it," Westchester Sen. Shelly Mayer said.

MORESudden Switch To Remote Learning Means Particular Challenge For Students With Special Needs

In an effort to close the digital divide in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an agreement with Verizon. It requires the company to build out its broadband footprint to 500,000 more households, prioritizing the most underserved communities, including every New York City Housing Authority building in the five boroughs.

"We've had a digital divide. We've had a huge disparity of who gets access to internet, who doesn't," de Blasio said. "More and more, we understand that we have to create a society which everyone has equal access."

"That would be a great thing, and it would help so many children," Alston said.

The goal of equity in education is now steps closer to being reached.


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