Oakland, CA — The Oakland Public Library (OPL) is here to support Oakland school children and families forced to learn from home during the coronavirus pandemic. In a city where an estimated one-third of students lack access to the internet at home, bridging the digital divide is paramount.
That’s why, this week, OPL is donating 500 Wi-Fi hotspots to the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to help eliminate the gap. The hotspots will be delivered to non-profit partner Tech Exchange, which will work with OUSD to divide the hotspots equitably throughout the district. Teachers and administrators can reach out to OUSD Technology Services Lead Kyleigh Nevis (Kyleigh.email@example.com) for questions about how hotspots will be allocated.
The hotspots are funded by the Library and the City of Oakland’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. The hotspots will be available to use for 12 months.
OPL, which expanded Wi-Fi hotspot checkouts to every location in January, learned of the inadequate internet access for families during an OUSD Town Hall in late March. Supervising Librarian Derrick DeMay reached out to OPL’s hotspot provider, T-Mobile, to inquire about the availability of the additional equipment.
“It was really through our existing relationship with T-Mobile that we were able to identify the available stock. The company was getting inundated with similar requests and fast-dwindling supplies,” said DeMay. “They basically set aside some hotspots just for Oakland and we confirmed the following day. We’re glad we were able to find them and to contribute what we can.”
In addition to donating hotspots, OPL continues to offer support for those learning away from the classroom:
Tutor.com: On April 1, OPL unveiled access to tutor.com, an online service providing live and free one-on-one tutoring in a variety of subjects. Live one-on-one assistance is available every day from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tutoring in Spanish with bilingual tutors is also available. All one needs is an OPL library card, computer, smartphone or tablet with internet access.
How to Learn at Home: A guide for parents and caregivers to provide a learning framework for newly-minted homeschoolers. Kids learn when they are interested and having fun.
Screen Free Activities: Sheltering in place can lead to a lot of screen time. Don’t feel guilty about that; these are difficult times and parents need to do what they need to do. When you’re ready to cut down on screens for a bit, visit this page for some recommendations.
Online Programs for Kids: Our branches might be closed, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t have fun together. Join OPL librarians on Facebook (www.facebook.com/oaklibrary) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/oaklandpubliclibrary) every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for virtual storytimes, sing-a-longs, and more!
Although physical branches are closed, Oaklanders can still sign up for a library card online, as well as ask questions about their accounts through firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone messages can be left at 510-238-3134 and a staff person will get back to the patron within 48 hours.