California governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that schools K-12 through college statewide would remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to a mandatory stay-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. As a result of the closures, the governor also unveiled a partnership with Google to provide free internet access for California residents.
Newsom said Mountain View-based Google will set up 100,000 access points to increase WiFi and broadband internet for free. The service will last for three months within the state of California. The deal also includes providing Chromebook laptops for thousands of students for remote learning.
“We need more Googles,” Newsom said during a Wednesday news conference according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “This was a substantial enhancement.”
Over 6 million students have been affected by the state’s massive school closures, continuing their education through remote learning. The closures have revealed an internet inequality issue in the U.S.: many students do not have access to broadband internet or a computer at home. Parents now have to transition working from home or unemployment while becoming teachers for their housebound children.
“To all of the moms, all the teachers, all the caregivers, I know how stressful this is, trust me,” Newsom said to the Los Angeles Times. “I know what we’re asking of you over the course of the next few months.” The governor added that families and educators should continue with the expectation that schools will not reopen for the rest of the year.
The San Francisco Unified School District had previously started using a free Google Classroom web service for 57,000 students in the city to access learning materials during quarantine.