Photo: Julie Leopo
A student in Alpaugh Unified checks out a Chromebook at the beginning of the school day.

Thousands of California students who lack access to the internet or computers at home will soon have the tools they need to get online as their schools remain closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Google announced that it will donate 4,000 Chromebooks to students and free Wi-Fi to 100,000 rural households for a minimum of three months.

“This was a substantial enhancement that came just at the right time,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a briefing on Wednesday. On Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said that schools can expect to stay closed through summer, but that education will continue remotely.

“Google is proud to be working with Governor Newsom and partners to help bridge the digital divide in our home state,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said, “to help make distance learning more accessible during the COVID-19 crisis.”

It is still unclear exactly how the California Department of Education will distribute the Chromebooks and WiFi devices.

“We are now in the process of quickly collecting and analyzing information about connectivity needs,” said Kindra Britt, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education. “Once we have the data, we can begin to make decisions about distribution.”

As California schools transition from in-person to distance learning to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, accessing the internet and computers at home remains a barrier to learning for many students.

Only about a third of California households in rural areas are subscribed to internet service, compared with 78 percent in urban areas, according to an EdSource analysis of data from the California Public Utilities Commission.

About 20 percent of all California students can’t get on to the internet at home, said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education, during a press conference with Newsom and Thurmond on Wednesday.

Darling-Hammond said on Wednesday that the donation from Google could cut the number of students without access to internet at home by nearly half.

“I’m hopeful that by the time we resume school-based instruction, we will in fact have closed that digital gap and taught a lot of people, kids and teachers and parents, how to engage in learning online,” she said.

Even in urban and suburban parts of the state, education officials say that distance learning could be a struggle because not all students have equal access to technology at home. In Palo Alto Unified, which is located only a few miles from Google’s headquarters, superintendent Don Austin said that some families of low-income students in his district can not afford internet at home.

Several internet and telecommunications companies in recent weeks also announced discounts on service for families that can not afford internet to assist with distance learning efforts. Districts are also using their own funds to equip students and teachers for online and distance learning.

San Francisco Unified has distributed more than 5,200 Chromebooks to students in grades 3 to 12 since it closed schools in March. District officials estimate they need to distribute another 5,000 this week to prepare for distance learning, which is expected to begin mid-April.

In March, Los Angeles Unified announced it had authorized an emergency investment of $100 million to provide laptops for students who don’t already have one, along with a partnership with Verizon to offer internet access for students.

“This is an unprecedented commitment, but a necessary one,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “Many of our families are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to do this on their own — but their children deserve the same opportunity those in more affluent communities have.”

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  1. John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

    EdSource has closed comments on this article. Thank you for the extensive number of comments on how to apply for Chromebooks and internet connections. Please continue to monitor our site. As soon the California Department of Education provides more information about how districts will receive and parents can obtain Chromebooks and internet connections, we will let readers know.

  2. Veronica Barraza 4 months ago4 months ago

    We are low income and dont have enough to buy a computer or a chromebook for them to do their home work so need help to get them to do their work at home

  3. Tayni Smith 4 months ago4 months ago

    You are awesome. Would love to sing your praises. My daughter’s Chromebook just broke. We would be so grateful for your generosity. Thank you for helping Our children to be the best they can be during this stressful time.

  4. Dr. Venus Mixson 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do we get chrome books for our students who need them?
    Please. Thank you.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Dr. Mixson,

      As my colleague, Sydney Johnson reported, the California Department of Education said last week that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. EdSource will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  5. Isabela Sanchez 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have 2 kids – a 6 year old and a 8 year old logging into their assignments. It has been a struggle. I only have a tablet it’s hard to be able to connect both of them. I really wish I could get a Chromebook for them to be able to log into their assignments.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Isabela, as my colleague, Sydney Johnson reported, the California Department of Education said last week that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. EdSource will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  6. Nita 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have 8 grandchildren. They all attend school. and they need Chromebooks. Please let me know how to apply.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Nita, as my colleague, Sydney Johnson reported, the California Department of Education said last week that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. EdSource will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  7. Jreyes 4 months ago4 months ago

    I want to apply for a free computer. I have 3 kids 16/12/8 and just had a surgery. I am not working. My my kids need a Chromebook to do there homework.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Jreyes, as my colleague, Sydney Johnson reported, the California Department of Education said last week that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. EdSource will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  8. Sabir Habtom 4 months ago4 months ago

    My wife does not speak English, and I need laptops and computers for my kids to learn. I’m a full-time employee at Kaiser Hospital. How can you help me?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Sabir, as my colleague, Sydney Johnson reported, the California Department of Education said last week that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. EdSource will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  9. Maritza Aquino 4 months ago4 months ago

    I would like to apply for this. I’m a single mother of 4 beautiful girls – 21, 13, 6 and 23 months old that just got done with chemotherapy a few months ago and I’ve been really struggling with all this. I want my girls to be able to continue with their education and it’s almost impossible with this terrible pandemic. BLESSINGS FOR ALL.

  10. Marcela Castro 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am an advocate for migrant families in Salinas? Do you think we can get help with the free wi-fi so students can do their homework online?

  11. Andrea Hernandez 4 months ago4 months ago

    Do you know if SDUSD going to give laptops for free?

  12. Patricia chacon 4 months ago4 months ago

    Very interesting article. I just need to know how to access that . Can you tell me where or how to get Internet services? It would be awesome to be able to do school work from home and in a laptop instead from a phone and not able to print out. Thanks most thankful.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Thanks for writing, Patricia. First check with your teacher to see if Gilroy Unified has plans to distributed Chromebooks. Beyond that, as my colleague Sydney Johnson has advised, “The California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. EdSource will provide an update as soon as more information is available.”

  13. Eric Birky 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am an older student presently attending LA City College. I presently reside in a homeless shelter in Hollywood. I am slightly disabled and also in the process of looking for a place to live through Section 8. It is my goal to get my degree in Social Work and Music in order to help the homeless and myself become productive members of society. I fell that LACC is helping me do just that.

  14. Dedra Adkins 4 months ago4 months ago

    Thank you for your response . We will wait for further info. Thanks again for your hard work for our children.

  15. David Zepeda 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am a junior and my brother is a 6th grader we are both in need of Chromebooks. How can we get them? We also live in California.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      David, first connect with your principal or one of your teachers to see if your district has any plans. Other than that, as my colleague Sydney Johnson has advised, “The California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.”

  16. David Zepeda 4 months ago4 months ago

    Me and my sibling need computers for online school. We also live in California. Is there way we can get these?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 4 months ago4 months ago

      Thanks for writing, David. As my colleague Sydney Johnson has advised, “the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.”

  17. Loresha Lair 4 months ago4 months ago

    Is there a website where I can sign my son up for the free Chromebook laptop ? He’s 9 in the 3rd grade and is a LAUSD student . Appreciate the feedback

  18. Rahd balan 4 months ago4 months ago

    Hello, we are a 5 member in a house, we all have homework and meeting Zoom at the same time. How we can get free a computer? By the way, we live in California.

  19. Socorro Salado 4 months ago4 months ago

    How can I get a free Chromebook for my kids? Not working due to a COVID-19: no salary and no monetary help at all.

  20. Tina Paredes 4 months ago4 months ago

    My daughter needs a computer and me and husband are out of work. How can she get a free Chromebook!! Thank you!!

  21. Elizabeth Greer Perez 4 months ago4 months ago

    My children are from National and Suhi district in National City, CA. My children stay home alone while their single mother works the front lines with patients every day. My son who is a senior, my other son who is a sophomore, and my daughter in 3rd grade are all in need of a computer to be able to complete their school work and tests. They start on 16th. We'd really appreciated. Thank you. Sincerely, Single … Read More

    My children are from National and Suhi district in National City, CA. My children stay home alone while their single mother works the front lines with patients every day. My son who is a senior, my other son who is a sophomore, and my daughter in 3rd grade are all in need of a computer to be able to complete their school work and tests. They start on 16th. We’d really appreciated. Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Single mom Liz
    Who is in the front line everyday with patients.

  22. Michelle Taylor 4 months ago4 months ago

    High school senior..how can i get my daughter one?

  23. Marisol rodriguez 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have a daghter that needs a computer for her classes she’s in middle school and nobody in our house has a job right know please, how can i Apply for a free chromebooks

  24. Fransetta Deola Shields 4 months ago4 months ago

    I need some for my grandkids

  25. yasameen alhaddad 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am a student at Fresno State and I have 3 kids who in high school, middle and elementary school, and my husband does his work on the computer and we just have one computer at home. Please, how could I apply for free Chromebooks from Google?
    Thank you and have a wonderful day.

  26. Maria Avelar 4 months ago4 months ago

    Hello, I was wondering how to get a free Chromebook for my 3 children. Two are attending junior high school and the other is attending high school. I have no type of Wi-Fi connection at home either. Do you also provide Wi-Fi? Thanks so much!

  27. Nicole Esparza 4 months ago4 months ago

    I was wondering how to get a Chromebook for both of my sons so they can do their schoolwork. Everything is on Zoom and I haven’t received info from the schools, just information for grab and go food. Thank you in advance for any information

  28. Desirae Heredia 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do I obtain a free chromebook for my child? She was issued one from school and it was stolen from her backpack during after school program. I have tried to get another from her school and school board but have not been successful. She is currently using my phone for school work and is falling behind and is not able to access half of school material. Please, anything would help. I’m a single mother … Read More

    How do I obtain a free chromebook for my child? She was issued one from school and it was stolen from her backpack during after school program. I have tried to get another from her school and school board but have not been successful. She is currently using my phone for school work and is falling behind and is not able to access half of school material.

    Please, anything would help. I’m a single mother currently not working with a newborn and I am trying my best to make sure she has the resources she needs right now during this time.

  29. Doris Pocasangre 4 months ago4 months ago

    Hello how can I get Chromebook for my 16 year old son? He needs one to do his class work online.

  30. Norma Del Toro 4 months ago4 months ago

    Our students can benefit from these chrome books. How can our school apply?

  31. No-Doz 4 months ago4 months ago

    This “donation” is a drop in the bucket. I worked as a contractor at Google. There are tens of thousands of Chromebooks not being used at Google’s offices. The great irony is that Google staff refused to use them, virtually 100% of workers use MacBooks.

  32. Sonia Ramirez Alcozer 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do I get a free Chromebook for my child?

  33. Dennis Frisch 4 months ago4 months ago

    As well-intentioned as this effort may be, I think it would have been better to cancel the entire spring semester. This effort will disadvantage those students who are low income, homeless or otherwise disadvantaged (family issues, etc.) because they might not be able to afford the internet costs and do not always have the skills to use a computer and the applications necessary to log in. Equity has been an endless theme is all … Read More

    As well-intentioned as this effort may be, I think it would have been better to cancel the entire spring semester. This effort will disadvantage those students who are low income, homeless or otherwise disadvantaged (family issues, etc.) because they might not be able to afford the internet costs and do not always have the skills to use a computer and the applications necessary to log in.

    Equity has been an endless theme is all sorts of faculty seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.. This effort might actually educational disadvantage those students it is most intended to help.

  34. Andre Ponder 4 months ago4 months ago

    I’m a School Principal, how can I apply for assistance for our students. We are in a rural area and are in need of help.

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Andre, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  35. Maria acosta 4 months ago4 months ago

    Hello where can I apply to get a Chromebook I have 3 kids that need to do work online and do the zoom classes thanks

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Maria, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  36. Jess 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do I sign up for the internet and Chromebook? My daughter is in second grade and started distance learning this week, do not want her to fall behind. They are doing video meetings on google classroom daily, please help her not miss out!

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Jess, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  37. Brigette A Mancillas 4 months ago4 months ago

    Hi I have guardianshp of a my 14 year old grandson, he is a freshman and he needs a Chromebook for online studies for school how can I get a Chrome book for him. We could really use the help, Thank you

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Bridgette, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  38. Sharon Carabajal 4 months ago4 months ago

    I need free internet access and free chrome book asap. As far as I can see, this is all lies and I have reached out to the media about it.

  39. Kathryn Personius-Manley 4 months ago4 months ago

    We are a tribal reservation in a rural area. We have set up a virtual classroom for the 40 children in our program so they can continue their education. We need Chromebooks for these children. Who do we need to make contact with for this request?

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Kathryn, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  40. Bakari 4 months ago4 months ago

    This is great this is happening now, though it’s something that should been done long before this crisis. In a digital age and digital economy, access to the Internet and technology are just important as access to a classroom.

  41. Erika Lopez 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do we go about getting a Chromebook for our students please?

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Erika, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  42. Betty Best 4 months ago4 months ago

    Have 2 middle age students need chrome books if your donate or have the information.

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Betty, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  43. Tanya LeFlore 4 months ago4 months ago

    How does my child apply for this chromebook

  44. Jill hansen 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have a 1st grader and 5th grader. Both have IEP’s. I feel both will fall behind If we can’t keep up with the work that requires a chrome book. I do not have the funds to purchase 2 chrome books. How do apply for them?

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Jill, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  45. Natalie Apodaca 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have three daughters and one computer at home, how may I request a loaned chromebook?

  46. Jill Perez 4 months ago4 months ago

    Can I get information about Free Internet for teachers?

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Jill, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  47. Ellen Cole 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do I get a free chromebook for my grandchildren to work on their schoolwork

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Ellen, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  48. Laura gonzalez 4 months ago4 months ago

    How or where can we apply to get the chromebooks for our students? I have 3 who are in desperate need to stay in touch with school.

  49. Fabiola Castro 4 months ago4 months ago

    My brother is in college and recently his laptop was stolen and got laid off from work.

    Do you any company that can donate him one?

  50. Melissa 4 months ago4 months ago

    Im looking to get wifi and computers for my kids to do all class assingments. its been hard on are family.

  51. Tara 4 months ago4 months ago

    When will they donate computer’s?
    School work motivates kids to get going in the morning and having contact with the community will help them feel more comfortable with socializing while being confined to the home. Thank you Google !

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Tara, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  52. Neil Vergara 4 months ago4 months ago

    Would like to ask where to get the Chromebook for my kids. I have an 11 year old and two 13 year old twins and we only have two laptops at home. one is an old dell laptop still works but has no camera so they can’t video conference with their teachers.

  53. Kristin Capmbell 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do I get my son on this list? We’re in a rural area of CA. A town called Laytonville. He would benefit tremendously from this program as he’s a freshman in HS.

  54. Jae kim 4 months ago4 months ago

    Hi. where i can apply free internet and free chrombook? i have 3 elementary students. they uses my ipad for study at home they need own devices. please let me know to apply. thanks.

  55. Lesly Hipple 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have two kids that are distance learning starting April 13, 2020. We have cell phones but we don’t have a computer. We live in the small town of Fawnskin, CA, and would like to know what resources are available to our children.

  56. Tram Ton 4 months ago4 months ago

    How can I sign up for free chrome book for my daughter, she is freshman high school. Thanks.
    Tram

  57. Fina 4 months ago4 months ago

    Where do we apply for this program in Orange County? How do the kids get a Chromebooks & WiFi?

  58. Tomica snowden 4 months ago4 months ago

    What about residents of newjersey I’m a resident in sicklerville nj i have four children and I’m in need it’s so hard for my children to get work done there using my one tablet which doesn’t do certain work

  59. Shery Shabitai 4 months ago4 months ago

    How can i apply for google chromebook and wifi for my kids? Im a low income and i cannot afford to buy it and they need to be connected with their teachers?

  60. Rick Shaw 4 months ago4 months ago

    Is there a contact for this program? I’m the CIO for a community college district in the Mojave Desert.

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Rick, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  61. Satjit Dhami 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do we apply for hotspots for the students and teachers we are unable to connected with internet?

    We would only need 50 to complete our district.

  62. Doreen Papanos 4 months ago4 months ago

    Where can my students get Chromebooks?

    I have a few students in my classroom who do not have a device to complete my assignments. Are there any Chromebooks left for San Diego students? Please advise.

    Replies

    • michelle carbajal 4 months ago4 months ago

      How does my child get a chrome book for learning if his school doesn’t provide them

      • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

        Hi Michelle, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Doreen, several districts in San Diego are providing Chromebooks for students, and district leaders would be the best source on how many are left. The California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  63. Catalina 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do we apply for free chromebooks and wifi? God Bless you Google for this awesome support and help for our kids very much needed.

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Catalina, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.

  64. Sendy 4 months ago4 months ago

    Tengo 3 hijos y necesito computadoras para sus trabajos de la escuela son de mount Diablo distrito. Donde las puedo conseguir?

    Replies

    • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hola. El Departamento de Educación de California todavía está planeando cómo distribuir los aparatos. Les avisaremos cuando haya más información disponible.

  65. Priscilla Carrillo 4 months ago4 months ago

    Can you please tell me how to get the free chrome books and internet service? We live in a rural area in California and this would be a blessing to my two boys.

  66. Sam 4 months ago4 months ago

    Do you know how families are to apply for this? I work for a school district where some families have a hard time finding an internet provider or can’t afford to purchase satellite internet.

  67. Charlene Munn 4 months ago4 months ago

    How can I receive 2 chrome books for my 2 grandchildren? They are in school and need them. I can’t afford to pay for them and the free wifi with it for their school work via internet. Please help. I’m afraid they are falling behind because of this Covid19 and the lack of funds for me to purchase them.

  68. Tarsha Bunch 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do you apply for the free wifi and Chromebooks? We got the internet through Charter that was offered when schools were first closed it was supposed to be free for the first 2 months. I got a bill several days ago for $65. Now I can’t get anyone on the phone to find out why? My daughter would really benefit from this program.

  69. Yolanda Gomez 4 months ago4 months ago

    Were can I get the free internet and Chromebooks for my son in El Monte? I don’t have a computer at home for him

  70. SYLVIA VALLES 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have internet but cannot afford a laptop for my granddaughter to go on line for school. Our phones not supported.

  71. Heather Hatchell 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do we sign our children up? We have no computers, and my kids are doing their work on their phones. Help.

    Replies

    • Jean Yus 4 months ago4 months ago

      Go to your county public school website and look for the human resources phone number. Call and talk. Also check your emal & spam for emails from the school with instructions on this.

  72. Tanya Ochoa 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have 2 kids and we don’t have computers. They really love school; my girl is a honor roll girl since kindergarten. I don’t want her to get behind.

  73. Karen 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do we apply for the free Chromebook for distance learning with students that don’t have a laptop or desktop?

  74. Katrina Hollinshead 4 months ago4 months ago

    My kid needs internet and some form of computer for distance learning. She struggles already.

  75. Carolyn Villanueva 4 months ago4 months ago

    How do the kids get Chromebooks? I have 3 children and I would like to know how to get these for kids. Having them use my phone to do their work has been really hard.

    Replies

    • Dedra Adkins 4 months ago4 months ago

      Where do i sign up for free Chromebook for my daughter.

      • Sydney Johnson 4 months ago4 months ago

        Hi Dedra, the California Department of Education said on Wednesday that it is still working out details on how and where to distribute the devices. We will provide an update as soon as more information is available.