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Schools, library bridging the digital divide in Canandaigua

It’s a digital world, and we’re just living in it.

In education, much like in other areas of our lives, we’ve come a long way. Gone are the days of pen and paper or typewritten assignments. It’s not enough anymore to have a big, clunky desktop in the “computer room” of the house. These days, schools are so technology-dependent that near everything is done online: grading and reports cards; conferences; and not only doing homework assignments, but handing them in.

It’s why over the years, school districts have even started buying and handing out laptops for students to use throughout the school year. Districts will go to the ends of the earth to make sure students have the materials they need to get their work done and handed in without leaving a paper trail.

Unfortunately, the bus loop at school is where that ends. Teachers don’t go home with their students; and sometimes, home is where the problem begins.

Wood Library in Canandaigua is hoping to bridge the homework gap by providing mobile wi-fi hotspots and extended hours for students to be able to do their assignments if they’re unable to do them at home.

The Digital Divide, or the Homework Gap, is the acknowledgement that though education is largely technology-dependent these days, the income disparities between families prevent about 15 percent of households with school-age teens from being able to afford high-speed internet, or any internet at all, according to Pew Research Center.

Of that 15 percent of families, 35 percent of them are making $30,000 a year or less. The problem is particularly prominent for low-income black or Hispanic families. Students have admitted to needing to find public wi-fi in order to complete assignments, or just give up on the idea of finishing their homework altogether if after-school time isn’t sufficient, or they cannot find a public place to work.

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