Parents in the Latino community worry kids are being left behind amid COVID-19 pandemic

This story was featured in our ABC11 special program The Racial Divide: Inequity in Education
The pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic weigh heavy on Latino families.

"I think it's been difficult for the whole family because we lost our jobs," Amanda Castizo said.

"I feel very stressed myself," said Jaquelina Urbano.

Castizo has an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old. Urbano has three children, aged 7, 10 and 16. All of them go to Durham schools and, since March, they've tried to learn from home.

"It was very difficult because the teachers were not prepared and we did not have a computer," Castizo said.

And the language barrier just creates another roadblock in their families' paths to success.

WATCH: The Racial Divide: Inequity in Education

"I couldn't understand many times what was sent to us. Or what was said to us. So that makes it much more complicated," Castizo said.

Central North Carolina school systems say they're doing their best to provide translators and provide information in English and Spanish.

Wake County sends out Friday updates in English and Spanish. Durham says it has built online learning guides in Spanish.

"They have made some efforts to help us a little bit but there is a long way to go," Urbano said.

Still, these Durham mothers worry about what all of this means for the future.

"Are you worried your kids are going to get behind?"

"Oh, yes. Of course. In fact, I think that's already happening," Urbano said.

Statewide, Hispanic students make up 19 percent of the school population but they only make up 15 percent of the graduating population. Twenty-five percent of Hispanic students drop out of school.

"All the Hispanic kids are already behind. I think a lot of kids are never going to be able to catch up even after this is over," Castizo said.

But these families know this is just the beginning of their worries. Many school systems are announcing students will begin the year virtually but many parents will have to leave the home to go to work.

"How will a 7-year-old child get up at 7:30 in the morning and take on that responsibility to study on his own?" Castizo asked.

Still, Urbano and Castizo say they're hopeful schools will step up to help their families overcome these challenges for the sake of their children's' futures.

"I think it's very important for the community to support each other, to pay attention to the needs of others so we can help each other and move ahead," Castizo said.

Here is a list of some of the offered resources and contact information:

WAKE COUNTY

We send out messages to families in English and Spanish every Friday with updates from the week. If families aren't receiving our messages, it is important that they contact their school to get their contact information updated (Phone and Email). Families who don't receive our text messages can opt-in by texting YES to the shortcode 67587. Families who are having difficulty reaching their school to update their contact information can call our customer service line at (919) 431-7333.

  • WCPSS has Spanish speaking staff on our customer service line.
  • We have a translations team that translates all communications sent to parents.
  • We have a language assistance phone line where families can call if they have trouble understanding school processes. (919) 852-3303
  • Weekly updates are posted to our school reopening site https://www.wcpss.net/returntocampus. Families can use the translate button to translate the entire website.
  • Return to school information in Spanish: https://www.wcpss.net/Page/43740
  • Weekly updates sent to families in English and Spanish are posted here https://www.wcpss.net/domain/17054


DURHAM COUNTY

  • We are surveying Spanish-speaking families of elementary students for child care needs.
  • Our Multilingual Resource Center has been participating in a DHHS working group and LATIN-19.
  • Our Multilingual Resource Center is partnering with ISLA NC to offer pláticas, or conversations, on Facebook around topics of community interest such as online learning.
  • We will have parent support for our online learning platform, Canvas, in English and Spanish.
  • We have hosted virtual parent town halls with simultaneous interpretation.
  • We are building guides in Spanish for supporting students with online learning.
  • We are looking at the capacity for creating pilot multilingual study groups in English and Spanish, and curricular resources with Spanish language supports.
  • DPS is recording and distributing Spanish language robocalls to parents, including information about health and safety, as well as Durham County Department of Public Health information.
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