Amidst the pandemic, smoke, power outages, and economic insecurity, the school year has started in Santa Cruz County with distance learning. Aptos Junior High student Mahia Aguilar had to go to a park nearby her home to connect to the internet. The park was busy and distracting, the internet was spotty, and frankly, she confessed, sometimes it was scary.
Mahia is just one of the children in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District where about 30% of families did not have home internet at the beginning of the pandemic, despite the fact that all students in PVUSD were equipped with Chromebooks. These are families that struggle financially even in the best of times, prioritizing food and rent over another service bill. Teachers are reporting that students without home internet just seem to “disappear.” These students, who already face so many obstacles to their education, are going to be further left behind.