90K N.J. students can’t connect for virtual school. It’s ‘completely unacceptable,’ lawmaker says.

Adam Clark | June 8, 2020 | NJ Advance Media |

 

Nearly 90,000 New Jersey students still don’t have internet access or a device to participate in virtual school, and there’s no guarantee they’ll have it by the fall if schools don’t reopen their buildings, state officials said Monday.

That number — and the lack of a definitive plan for reducing it — is “completely unacceptable” after nearly three months of remote learning, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz said in a stinging criticism of the state’s response.

“I’m so angry right now that I’m trying to contain myself,” Ruiz, D-Essex, told state Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet during an Education Committee hearing. “If we don’t see 100% of families connected before September, I gotta tell you I don’t even know what is going to come out of my mouth.”

Ruiz, chair of the Education Committee, said the state needs to put more pressure on districts to purchase laptops or provide that funding itself. The digital divide is especially alarming because it mostly harms students in low-income areas whose families are already disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, she said.

 

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