Gov. Newsom visits Central California school, launches effort for statewide high-speed internet

Governor Newsom visited a school in the South Valley Tuesday afternoon.

He was there to sign a bill into law that aims to give everyone across California equitable and affordable internet access.

He also addressed the rise in COVID cases and whether or not he's considering bringing back a state-wide mask mandate.

Newsom putting pen to paper Tuesday, signing into law a $6 billion multi-year investment aimed at giving every Californian access to affordable, high-speed internet.

The signing was held at Traver Elementary School in Tulare County, a rural area that faced internet access issues last year when students shifted to distance learning.

"There's nothing that distinguishes the kids at Traver Elementary from the kids down there in Palo Alto. Nothing, except opportunity," said Newsom.

More than half of the funding, $3.25 billion, will go toward building, operating and maintaining a state-owned middle mile network.

Additional funding will connect homes and businesses with local networks and finance broadband infrastructure for communities across the state.

Beyond access, lawmakers said the goal is to break up internet service provider monopolies.

Access for all will not happen overnight, but Gov. Newsom said signing this bill into law will make a difference long-term.

"The issue of access and equity, those are those two words that bring us here today," Newsom said. "The spirit is in the next generation that will be the beneficiaries of this historic landmark investment."

The Superintendent of Traver Joint School District, Steve Ramirez, has already taken steps to ensure every student has access to high-speed internet, but he's grateful that the entire community could have access in the future.

"I'm happy to hear that because I know the need is just going to get, it's just going to increase year by year," Ramirez said.

Gov. Newsom spent time with several Traver Elementary students and masks were required for everyone in the room while students were present.

However, during the question and answer portion of the governor's press conference, he would not directly say if he's planning to re-implement a mask mandate.

"We'll see, look, at the end of the day, the epidemiology, the spread, the variants make that determination," Newsom said. "The answer to the delta variant is rather simple. Get vaccinated."

Gov. Newsom said some counties across the state are doing extremely well with vaccination rates, but others aren't.

He specifically mentioned Tulare County needs to increase the number of vaccinated residents.

He said we wouldn't be discussing the topic of masks if everyone would get vaccinated.

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