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Latinx families struggle with remote learning; language barriers & technology issues increase problems exponentially

One recent survey found that 83% of caregivers fear their children are falling further behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic

CLEVELAND — Parents juggling work and distance learning are feeling plenty of stress these days. 

The issues are even more prevalent in Latinx communities, which faces challenges such as language barriers, communication issues and technology hurdles. It’s leaving many in the community fearing their children will fall further behind academically.

Monica Diaz has seen firsthand the impact that COVID-19’s has had on Northeast Ohio. Monica works at MetroHealth and her husband at the airport while their young children, as well as Monica's mother- who is medically vulnerable- are at home. 

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“As a family, it was very scary. Scary,” Monica said of those early months.

Fears over the pandemic continue, but her anxiety level has risen as remote learning stretches on for her 7-year-old-son.

"It’s really emotional for me. It hits me, it hits me a lot,” the mother said of the stress she feels. 

Monica's son, Neymar, like thousands of children across the region, started his year remotely. The family sees improvements from last spring, but there are still many hurdles, especially for families in the Latinx community.

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“My mom is watching my kids, but she does not know how to do the computer or speak English. The language we speak at home is only Spanish. My mom is really the one that takes care of my kids, so it’s Spanish. He needs speech therapy because of that,” Diaz said.  

When 3News spoke to her, Neymar had not received speech therapy since distance learning began last March. A few days later, Neymar’s school, Metro Catholic, has resumed therapy with him.

The problems Diaz’s family is experiencing are common among the Latinx population, not just here in Cleveland, but across the nation too.

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A survey from polling firm Latino Decisions, conducted on behalf of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, a parent-led educational organization, found 83% of primary caregivers are concerned that their children aren’t learning enough from online schooling and will fall behind.

“The black and brown communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID, also have other disparities and challenges from technology, digital literacy access, technology and knowing how to use the equipment,” said Victor Ruiz, Esperanza Executive Director. 

Esperanza is a non-profit providing educational support, advocacy, and services to the Hispanic community and is one organization bridging the gap, helping parents work with schools, advocating for them, easing language barriers and evening opening a learning pod for students.

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Signs of progress happening in the Latinx community, for those who reach out to organizations like Esperanza for help, as the pandemic rolls on.

“It’s been like a roller coaster. Up and down. Up and down,” Monica said.

A bit of good news for the Diaz family, who learned this week that their school is opening doors for students October 26th for students who have special needs and educational challenges.

Learn more about Esperanza and its programs: HERE

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