SACRAMENTO — Google will provide thousands of computers and free internet access to help California students finish the school year online, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
The company plans to donate 4,000 Chromebooks and make broadband internet available to 100,000 households through the end of the school year. Newsom said at a news conference that “Google stepped up in a big way,” but that more support was needed from the private sector to reach the most remote parts of the state.
“We need more Googles,” Newsom said.
With the spread of the coronavirus not projected to peak until at least May, state education officials recommended this week that schools stay closed for the rest of the academic year. Many districts that shut campuses weeks ago have developed plans to complete instruction online.
But about a fifth of California’s 6.2 million K-12 students lacked digital connectivity at home when school closures began, Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the State Board of Education, said at the news conference. A mix of state and local efforts has since cut that number by more than half, she said.
“I am hopeful that by the time we resume school-based instruction, we will in fact have closed that digital gap and taught a lot of people, both kids and teachers and parents, how to engage in learning online,” Darling-Hammond said.
The state Department of Education will distribute the Chromebooks and mobile hotspots, prioritizing rural communities, according to the governor’s office. Google is funding the computers and unlimited high-speed internet connectivity.
In a statement, company CEO Sundar Pichai said, “Google is proud to be working with Gov. Newsom and partners to help bridge the digital divide in our home state.”
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