Internet Inequality Impacts Millions of NYC Students During Distance Learning, But There Is Help

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Crux, DeSales Media, DeSales Media Group, Faith, Family, Media, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Queens, NY, School, Technology

By Jessica Easthope

According to the Mayor’s office more than one quarter of New York City’s eight million residents are not connected to the internet.

Only a few weeks ago, Aidan and Alyssa Osorio were part of that population.

“It’s been okay, but It’s also been tough,” said 12-year-old Alyssa.

The siblings were using devices that didn’t have the bandwidth to connect them to their classes at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in South Ozone Park, Queens, and were missing school.

“I was worried about how we were going to be able to spend a little extra on iPads if we needed, but I feel like our prayers were answered when we got that email from the teacher,” said Jessica Medina, Aidan and Alyssa’s mom.

Jessica said a weight was lifted when she got that email offering her kids iPads. Aidan and Alyssa’s iPads come from a device grant from DeSales Media Group, NET TV’s parent company. They even come with internet access free of charge.

“We don’t want any child to be left behind because they don’t have a device,” said Gina Krainchich, the Director of Educational Media Services for DeSales Media.

Over the last three years, the device grant has allowed her to give out more than 10,000 iPads and tablets.

“Even if they do have internet and a computer, we’re still finding there is difficulty for everyone to get on and do what they need to do during this crisis,” Gina said.

The latest date from the city Comptroller’s Office shows low income families struggle disproportionately with lack of internet access, a problem that existed since the debut of the world wide web and exacerbated by the pandemic.

504,000 households across New York City have no internet subscription, and more than one third of families making less than $20,000 a year have no access to internet at all.

The latest data from the Mayor’s Office shows the number of people in New York City without a broadband connection at home is equivalent to the population of Houston, Texas.

Currents News reached out to the Department of Education about its plan to close the gap in internet access but the request was not answered, leaving many worried what will happen come September.

But, that worry is behind those in Catholic Schools throughout Brooklyn and Queens. DeSales Media set out on a mission to give every student in need an iPad to learn with, and is close to accomplishing that goal.

“If they don’t have the device in their hand, they’re missing that connection,” Gina said.

With their devices in hand, the Osorio family is keeping that connection with their school community and their faith.