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Kids Get Connected

Kids Get Connected

150 students in 143 residential units at Buena Vista Migrant Camp do not have Wi-Fi internet access. Distance Learning is now required for all students. All students TK – 12th grade now have a Chromebook, but internet access is needed.

Kids Get Connected Sponsors

Your action requested!
Partner with us! Provide long-term Wi-Fi internet to 150 school children who reside at Buena Vista Migrant Camp in Watsonville. These students attend these PVUSD schools: Calabasas Elementary, Aptos Jr. High School, Aptos High School and Renaissance High School

The Watsonville Rotary Club is part of a broad coalition of partners known as Equal Access Santa Cruz County (EASCC). This initiative was spearheaded by Cruzio Internet with a simple goal: Bridge the digital divide and bring true high-speed broadband to every family in Santa Cruz County, regardless of income level.

The Watsonville Rotary Club is partnering with EASCC to construct high-speed internet connectivity to the Buena Vista Labor Camp in Watsonville, an underserved area with a statistically high volume of low-income student families. COVID-19 has forced the closure and/or reduced access to in-school learning in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD). While the PVUSD Technology Department has been nimble in its response to deploy distance learning equipment, devices, etc, students without internet access suffer disproportionately when it comes to distance learning – and from having access to critical Covid-19 messaging efforts from a variety of sources only available through the Internet.

This initiative, and our club’s role in supporting it, focuses on enabling COVID-19 messaging and other resources critical to the health and safety of low-income families. The members of our Club understand that internet connectivity not only provides equitable and critical access to education for students, but just as importantly, it creates access to health and human services information, including COVID-19 messaging, that benefits both students and their families.

The Buena Vista Labor Camp in Watsonville is home to approximately 600 individuals comprised of low- income, underserved farm worker families of Latino heritage. This state-run farmworker housing facility accommodates 143 families which includes 150 students enrolled in local schools. While the EASCC project prioritizes connecting students to high-speed internet access to facilitate distance learning, parents and other family members will also benefit from gaining access to health and human service resources, including COVID- 19 messaging, through long-term Wi-Fi services. Most farmworkers face multiple challenges to their security and quality of life, including poor access to health care services, long hours, low pay, low literacy, exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and more.

This project will promote economic security during COVID-19, regardless of race, ethnicity, immigration, housing insecure, and socioeconomic status: and the broader partnership to bridge the digital divide in Santa Cruz County, through the Buena Vista Labor Camp project, our efforts to promote digital equity and connectivity for disenfranchised families in South County will open doors to new opportunities that most of us take for granted.

Internet connectivity is not only crucial to help Buena Vista students thrive with distance learning; it also serves as a lifeline to their families to learn about and connect with COVID-19 messaging, as well as an array of other vital resources and services (i.e. employment opportunities, social services, medical and health services).

This project will recognize and elevate voices and needs of essential workers in our county and build awareness around the strengths and resilience of South County families: Essential workers hail from many professions….doctors, nurses, police, firefighters and so on. We honor their sacrifices in the media and celebrate them in public events, deservedly so, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

However, perhaps the least recognized and unsung heroes of our “essential” work force is our farmworker population. Often disadvantaged by long hours, low wages, harsh work conditions, substandard housing, poverty, cultural and language barriers, these farmworkers are critically essential to our economy and to our quality of life as they help to ensure that fresh, nourishing food is available on the shelves of our stores to feed us. The publicity and shared success of the Buena Vista Labor Camp project will both recognize and elevate the profile of the farmworker class of essential workers in our county. It will raise awareness of the inequities that exist for these hard-working heroes and celebrate the resilience of our South County families.

About the PVUSD

Pajaro Valley Unified School District covers a 150-square-mile, predominantly rural and agricultural area, in both Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. PVUSD serves over 20,106 students from Watsonville, Aptos, Freedom, Aromas and Pajaro. The District has 16 elementary schools, six middle schools, three high schools, as well as alternative schools, childcare centers and charter schools. The majority (66%) of PVUSD students are or were at one time English learners, 83% are low-income qualifying for free or reduced price meals, 10% are migrant, and 14% receive special education services. In addition, the District serves 59 foster youth and 16% of students meet criteria for homelessness due to multiple families living under one roof (all pre-COVID-19 numbers). Data examination and stakeholder feedback inform PVUSD priorities which include efforts that value innovation, increase rigor, and inspire joy as students are prepared to be college and career ready upon graduation. Student assets in this community include linguistic capital that allows them to communicate, form relationships and aspirational capital to overcome adversities. Pajaro Valley Unified has developed transformational learning and student support models to address unique learning needs through the whole child lens and that build off the many strengths of every student.

Following school closures in March 2020, PVUSD leveraged a whole child approach and culturally-responsive community partner ecosystem to support continued student success. Through the efforts of a highly innovative and nimble Technology Department PVUSD was able to deploy distance learning equipment/devices (Chromebooks and Hotspots), educator tutorial videos on technology use and solutions, and establish both staff and student/family technology hotlines to support the rapid transition to distance learning. The Technology Department’s role during this transition was at the center of PVUSD’s ability to maintain cognitive, social, emotional, and physical well-being of students at this time of unprecedented stress and isolation.

As the start of the 2020-21 school year approaches, PVUSD is able to provide hotspots for each child at the Buena Vista location to use their Chromebooks to support distance learning as well as teacher/peer connection and engagement. However, we know that to adequately address the Digital Divide, a wifi connection to each residence provides the equitable solution these students and their families truly deserve.