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Northern Virginia organization provides Latinx students with laptops, internet, food

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 8/10/2020 Ashlie Rodriguez/ABC7

Virtual learning is hard enough for English-speaking students. But for the children of first-generation Hispanic immigrants, it’s nearly impossible. That’s why one organization is stepping up its support, as school districts struggle.

“They sent us an email that said they’re going to shut down the school,” Rosa Martinez said. She just graduated from Roosevelt High School.

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Martinez was finishing her last semester at Roosevelt High in Northwest D.C. when the pandemic hit and learning went virtual. She says it was, “good and bad at the same time. Good because I don’t have to take 3-or-2 buses to get to school,” Martinez said. “But negative because I cannot be with the teachers. When they explain us the facetime in the classes, sometimes I called in again, and like I don’t understand can you explain me again.”

Martinez has been learning English for just a handful of years, since coming to the U.S from El Salvador at the age of 15. Her mother and siblings are learning it as well. So imagine not being able to ask your teacher questions about classes like Biology, U.S. government, U.S. history, and algebra. She says it was harder to learn.

Marinez isn’t alone in her struggle to succeed in school. According to Edu-Futuro, a non-profit that works to support under-resourced Latino families in Northern Virginia school districts, many of their clients are facing a daunting future in virtual learning.

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“Many of them didn’t have a digital device, besides a smartphone,” said Jorge E. Figueredo, Edu-Futuro Executive Director.

At least 80-percent of the hundreds of families they’ve surveyed have lost their jobs, can’t cover rent and/or utility bills, including the internet. Edu-Futuro stepped in when a family reported their high schooler was dropping out because he couldn’t get a strong enough internet connection.

“The student was at that point, ready to abandon the classes, because he didn’t have a way to properly learn,” Figueredo said. “And we’re like no please don’t do that. So we went ahead and paid for three months of the internet connection.”

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And he ended up finishing the spring semester. But not every ESL student is so blessed. Jorge says working parents can’t be home to oversee learning. When they are, they aren’t fluent in the English language and have little education themselves. On top of everything, students who relied on subsidized school lunches are now hungry.

Edu- Futuro is asking for financial donations to help provide internet, laptops, and food, as well as bilingual volunteers to step in and help where parents and school districts struggle. You can help by clicking here.


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