The Internet allows people to stay in touch with work, school, health care, friends and family.
Even in this age of fast-paced technology, many people struggle to afford the internet, especially students and families in Salinas. In an effort to bridge the “digital divide,” Monterey County officials are asking eligible residents to sign up for the Internet for free.
Alisal Union School District Assistant Superintendent Rais Abbasi said having to resort to home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, which consisted of students using computers or tablets at home, has been a wake-up call for schools across the country. .
“California is a very wealthy state; it can be one of the biggest economies in the world,” Abbasi said. “But there are pockets of very rich areas and very poor areas. We live in the East Salinas area, which has some very economically disadvantaged communities.
He pointed out that a large portion of students and families in Salinas still need help accessing the internet.
“When we collect data on national meal programs collected by the government, we can see how many people need help with meals. It’s just with meals,” Abbasi said. “So imagine the need internet access and other resources on top of that. This is the case with families here in Salinas.
Internet service is provided through the Affordable Connectivity Program, a government program that aims to help low-income households access the Internet and Internet devices at reduced rates.
Those eligible for free internet registration are asked to present identification in the form of a driver’s license, government, national or military identification card, tax identification number , a registration card or a Visa consular card and a birth certificate from any country for the minor who is the person eligible for benefits.
Eligibility documents requested include a monthly statement from Medi-Cal, CalFresh, WIC, proof of participation in the National School Lunch Program, and a Pell Grant award letter.
Several local school districts said they were initially unaware of upcoming enrollment events, but are now spreading the word to parents, including AUSD.
“We were already providing hotspots because people don’t have the ability to connect, but there is a need,” Abbasi said. “We are posting the information and application on our web page to spread the work that people can be part of this program.”
“I hope our local residents take advantage of this opportunity,” said council supervisor Luis Alejo.
For more information on how to access the Internet at a reduced or free price, visit the Monterey County website.