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Education, workforce leaders push to close Kentucky’s digital divide

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 11:49 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky education and economic development leaders met on Monday to improve efforts on how to close the state’s digital divide.

The United States Senate will consider putting funds into the cause in the next stimulus.

The money could be used to improve students’ ability to join online classes during the pandemic and speed the economic recovery.

According to a recent report from Common Sense Media, more than 186,000 students in Kentucky do not have adequate devices at home and they lack reliable high-speed internet.

Without such access to the internet, it would be nearly impossible for those students affected to join their online classes and complete assignments as online instruction across Kentucky is slated to resume in late August.

“If we can’t do something to ensure that they have comparable access,” former Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Dr. Wayne Lewis said. “That they have access to the learning through the world wide web that their peers have in more urban and suburban regions. We face the very real possibility that the gaps that we have seen for the past few generations will only grow larger and larger.”

Workforce leaders said investments in high-speed internet and laptops would also help the state’s economy. It would give parents the opportunity to search and apply for new jobs online, submit forms for government assistance and receive online training.

“We’re all struggling to adapt to it,” President of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Peter Hille said. “There’s a learning curve for all of us, but it is one we have to embrace.”

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