Keeping Up In The Classroom

Students at South Bay Labor Camp Face Challenges Accessing Online Classes

There are more than 100 children who live at the Ochoa Labor Camp, with many having slow or no internet.

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Children from a large migrant labor camp at the southern-most tip of Santa Clara County are struggling to get reliable internet service needed for online learning.

There are more than 100 children who live at the Ochoa Labor Camp, with many having slow or no internet.

The camp, located outside of Gilroy city limits, is open for 180 days a year to provide housing to migrant farm working families. The local fiber optics line does not reach far enough to provide service to the camp, making online classes and distance learning a problem for students.

One of the students at the camp, Richard Encina, is relying on his phone data for internet access to take his online college classes.

"It's very frustrating," he said. "I got stress -- I have homework right now, but I'm not doing it because I'm trying to save my internet."

Some parents said the Gilroy School District issued WiFi hot spots to families. Others said they have not ever seen the devices.

Camp resident Lourdes Rodriguez said her neighbors has multiple children sharing one school hot spot, but they constantly lose the signal.

Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo has been drawing attention to the digital divide and said it is time to think bigger.

"This is a national embarrassment what we see happening in California," Alejo said. "The state legislature and the governor should, at the earliest opportunity, put a statewide bond to provide universal broadband to everyone."

Gilroy Unified School District officials said it provided out WiFi hot spots to every child at the camp who requested it and is working to improve the connectivity of the devices.

The camp will close some time in the fall.

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