CTLN Opinion+: Luke Bronin

The Mayor of Hartford on city-wide free WIFI system to narrow the gap of the digital divide

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic communities of color were especially affected. Many aspects of life such as healthcare and education derailed the community due to a lack of access and information. A year into the pandemic we spoke to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin about lessons learned from the past year, plans for the future of Hartford and the COVID-19 vaccine.

In regards to education, the pandemic heightened the disparities of the Black and Brown communities. Young children started school without the chance to connect to their teachers and students with special needs were forced to learn from a computer screen. On top of that, students without reliable tools and bandwidth could not receive an education. 

In our conversation, Mayor Bronin said the “incredible loss of a school year” is what keeps him up at night. He went on to say the effects of this lack of interaction and in-person learning will take longer than a semester to recover from especially for Spanish language students who experienced a large setback having to learn from a screen.  

“This has got to be a massive multi-year effort to help our kids recover and heal, our school system is very focused on that right now,” Bronin said. “That includes expanding in a big way for summer learning opportunities, this coming summer and in the summers ahead, as well as making sure that there is more tutoring available.” 

From early on in the pandemic the Mayor saw the importance of internet access for information, jobs and education. As a result, Hartford is building a city-wide free WIFI system that will hopefully be reliable and narrow the gap of the digital divide. 

There are few cities throughout the country that have public free WIFI, with such a system in place, parents and children could work from home and not go in search of a reliable internet connection as we saw throughout the pandemic. 

We ended our conversation by talking about the COVID-19 virus and the importance of vaccination. On April 1, Hartford opened a walk-up vaccination center. Residents could walk into the vaccination center without an appointment and receive the vaccine, all that is required is proof of Hartford residency. 

“The vaccine is the way we beat this virus and put this pandemic in the past,” Bronin said. “Even if you feel reluctant to get it just like with masks, getting the vaccine is not just about you it’s about the people around you and your loved ones. So get that vaccine so we can get this virus behind us.” 

Hartford has several vaccination sites throughout the city as well as walk-up clinics. For more information please look at the resources below. 

Resources mentioned in the video: 

City of Hartford Homepage

https://www.hartfordct.gov/Home

Volunteering for COVID-19 vaccine registration

https://us.openforms.com/Form/c4e739ef-fd02-419d-8eb1-465110644dc6

Sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointment

https://us.openforms.com/Form/ba572ced-580d-4e5e-a930-fe393b0f3c5a

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