- A photo of young girls studying outside a Taco Bell store using its free WiFi first went viral on Instagram.
- Many people expressed concern on the growing digital divide as the country struggles amid pandemic and learning shifted to a virtual environment.
- The school has since provided the two girls with hotspots so they could continue their studies.
A photo of two young students from California sitting outside Taco Bell to use the store’s free wifi for their online class recently went viral.
It was uploaded on Instagram on August 25 has struck a chord in many people calling it a “digital divide” that is growing fast as Americans struggle to keep up with things amid a global health crisis.
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My mom sent me this picture today. These 2 young girls were looking for a place with WiFi to do their school work so they sat near Taco Bell to connect to the free WiFi. A lot of us don’t have to worry about having a proper WiFi connection or a quiet place to work from home. Every student from preschool through college should have free access to reliable WiFi especially now. What can we do as a community to pull together for students who need something as simple as WiFi in order to succeed? Please share and tag people in our community who can help. UPDATE: THE GIRLS WERE IDENTIFIED BY THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT AND GIVEN HOTSPOTS! I’M SURE THERE ARE OTHER CHILDREN IN NEED, I AM HOPING THEY ALL GET THE TOOLS THEY NEED! IF LOCAL BUSINESSES WOULD LIKE TO DONATE THEIR SPACE TO SET UP OUTDOOR INTERNET CAFES, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I WOULD LOVE TO HELP RALLY UP SUPPLIES AND MAN POWER! I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO REACH OUT TO YOUR OWN COMMUNITIES TO HELP STUDENTS IN YOUR AREA PLEASE CHECK OUT THE UPDATE ON THE FALSE POLICE ALLEGATIONS MADE BY A REPOSTER OF THIS PICTURE! DO HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU DONATE TO ANYONE. UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR. HOPING THAT THOSE HELPING HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS. ???? Although I appreciate it, please don’t follow my page. It’s only public for now because of this picture but I will be erasing all new followers. #freewifi #salinas #equityineducation #socialinjustice #socialinequality #educationmatters #wififorall #educationforall #salinascalifornia #digitaldivide #cometogether #communitylove #ittakesavillage #saveourkids #dosomething
The girls in the photo are sitting outside the store with their notebooks, pencils, and laptops while two employees are speaking with them.
“A lot of us don’t have to worry about having a proper WiFi connection or a quiet place to work from home,” the caption in the photo says. “Every student from preschool through college should have free access to reliable WiFi, especially now.”
Luis Alejo, City of Monterey supervisor, re-uploaded the photo on Twitter with a caption saying: “We must do better & solve this digital divide once & for all for all California students.”
The Salinas City Elementary School District has since identified the students and has provided them with hotspot so they do not have to leave home in order to complete their school works, their spokesperson Richard Gebin, told the People.
There is also an additional 2,500 hotspots that are waiting to be delivered to local families which is a “huge step in bridging the digital divide.”
“The digital divide is very real and delays in receiving needed technology are a statewide concern,” says the district’s President Amy Ish. “We are grateful the State is making technology a priority and look forward to receiving these hotspots in our District.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to shift to virtual classes and students relying on their computers and internet. Based on a study by Common Sense Media and the Boston Consulting Group, 25% of students do not have enough internet capability for remote learning at home while 17% do not have the right gadgets.
“We know that there [are] thousands of other kids in a similar situation. In Salinas, there’s a lot of homes and a lot of parents who don’t even know how to use computers or how hotspots work,” Supervisor Alejo said.
Parents will also be provided with tech support and training to learn how to use the technology.