SAN JUAN – Amid the crisis the Puerto Rico public education system is experiencing, and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the internet, far from being a luxury, has today become an essential tool for students to receive their education during the isolation period imposed by the authorities.
It is not a secret that the Department of Education has not shown aptitude to solve the problem of internet access for students to facilitate the teaching process. However, once again, the island's municipalities have shown initiative to fulfill the government's duty to provide an educational opportunity for all children equally.
To this end, and recognizing the need to alleviate the burden for parents and guardians of students in the public education system who educate their children at home but lack technological resources such as internet access, the mayor of Santa Isabel, Enrique Questell Alvarado, announced Wednesday that he was enabling the Francisco “Pancho” Robledo Multiple Use Center in his municipality with desks, chairs and free internet access so that students have a safe and comfortable space where they can fulfill their academic responsibilities.
“We know that not everyone in their homes has internet and the space to fulfill educational tasks, and as a municipality are continually committed to the education of our young people, so we feel responsible for providing them with the necessary tools, ”Questell Alvarado as sured while pointing out that “this academic semester will be held via the internet; that is why we decided to enable our center so that those who do not have service at home can use this facility safely and cost-free. ”
The major emphasized the need to make education equitably accessible to all, without leaving those with fewer financial resources behind.
“We are going to have the room equipped with tables, chairs and internet service. The center is air-conditioned and we will have water available…. Parents or guardians should only bring their computer, tablet or cellphone to access the Department of Education system. Those who do not have transportation may contact 787-219-2006 to coordinate the service that is also free in our municipality, ”the mayor said.
Questell Alvarado explained that the center will be offering these services to students during the regular school hours, 8 am to 3 p.m. However, the official stressed that to comply with the COVID-19 prevention measures, those who visit the center must wear a mask at all times and bring their personal disinfecting supplies. Six feet of physical distance will be maintained, in addition to taking the people's temperature when entering the facility.
Questell Alvarado added that the areas used will be disinfected each time seomeone finishes using them and a complete disinfection will be performed at the end of every day.
“In addition to this area in our Multiple Use Center, Santaisabelinos should know that our public square also has public Wi-Fi service. We want this process to be the most accessible for everyone and that no child or young person misses this semester, ”he said.