Sen. Blumenthal, Rep. Hayes address ways to bridge digital divide in Waterbury

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WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Politicians and school officials in Waterbury took part in a roundtable discussion Friday morning about what is called the “digital divide.” That is the gap between the haves and the have-nots when it comes to technology.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said the divide is really more of a chasm. According to Blumenthal, in this internet age and the age of the pandemic, with so many students learning at home, not having internet is the equivalent of not having schoolbooks or a desk in the old days. He added that a recent student showed 23% of Connecticut students do not have access to adequate broadband internet.

Inside the classroom: How Waterbury Public Schools are protecting teachers, students from coronavirus

He was joined on the panel by Waterbury’s Mayor and schools superintendent, as well as U.S. Rep. Johanna Hayes (D-5th District), the congresswoman who represents Waterbury. Rep. Hayes spent years as a teacher before running for office. She says for people in the education profession, the digital divide is not exactly breaking news.

“If there’s one takeaway for me, it’s that COVID has revealed the disparities we always knew existed, but it also has compelled the leaders to action,” Hayes said.

In Connecticut, those leaders seem to be doing better than most. The Mayor of Waterbury said the district gave students 13,000 laptops and Chromebooks with 6,500 more on order. 

In New Haven, schools superintendent Dr. Iline Tracey announced earlier this week that the Elm City has a device for every single student. 

RELATED: New Haven schools will still provide weekday meals for students during distance learning

Senator Blumenthal and Congresswoman Hayes said more needs to be done on the federal level to make sure every student is properly outfitted. 

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