Santa Clara County

South Bay Officials Look to Close Digital Divide During Virus Crisis

County, city and education officials propose funding for providing thousands of families with devices, connectivity

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Santa Clara County and San Jose city leaders are developing plans to close the digital divide when it comes to distance learning in South Bay schools during the public health crisis and beyond, officials announced Monday.

County Supervisor Dave Cortese on Tuesday will propose to the Board of Supervisors a joint effort with the county Office of Education to acquire digital coverage and equipment for underserved families who don't have the privilege of home computing devices and high-speed connections so students can keep up with the required distance learning during the coronavirus shelter at home order.

The county already has identified 15,000 families in need of assistance.

"The need for connectivity has presented significant challenges for our community members who live in areas with poor or no broadband service," Cortese said in a statement. "Long-term infrastructure will allow for community members to access much needed resources, even beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency."

Cortese was joined by county Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan, San Jose Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas, San Jose Councilwoman Maya Esparza and Franklin-McKinley School District Board Trustee Maimona Afzal Berta in announcing the proposal Monday morning.

The proposal asks the county to detail how it can secure funding to provide about 11,000 connectivity devices and 14,000 laptops or tablets to those underserved families.

Tuesday's virtual Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and can be viewed via the county's web site.

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