CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez is continuing her series of reports on what that might mean for parents and students.
Mckayla and Arianna Lynch of East Elmhurst, Queens, have adjusted well to remote learning, but their parents are worried what will happen if virtual learning becomes the long-term norm.
“I also take care of my mom, who is a senior citizen. I take her to appointments. I work part-time. My husband works full-time. Just getting our schedules together if the girls are at home, I just can’t even imagine how that would work,” said their mother Adriana Lynch.
COVID-19 restrictions have state leaders considering a hybrid education system, with kids learning both in the classroom and part-time online at home.
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It could be a logistical nightmare for many like Vicky Jones, a mother of two. She and her husband are public school teachers.
“How are we going to plan out that we are in school building one day? What if they are not? What if they’re home school that day?” Jones said.
Other parents, like the Randhawas, who will have someone watch their children when they return to work, still aren’t comfortable with distance learning.
“We have a nanny, right? So even if we go back, there will be somebody at home, right? But is she a teacher? No she is not,” said Nirvana Randhawa.
Former counselor Yvonne Stennett is executive director of CLOTH – Community League of the Heights – a nonprofit, public service organization. She says it is critical for decision-makers to consider the family dynamic, particularly with low-income, disadvantaged families.
“This is not going to go away anytime soon, so all of those stressors are being felt directly in the home,” Stennett said.
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Her group has been helping students from Community Health Academy of the Heights in Washington Heights navigate remote learning. Jamie Gabriel runs the program, and finds families struggling with a lack of space, and technology.
“They are also sharing devices and bandwidth at home, because parents who are also working at home, their kids are on the computer, they’re on screens all day. So there are scheduling conflicts that come in when parents have to go to work and the younger student has to get online,” Gabriel said.
She says language barriers also make it difficult for immigrant parents.
“We are fortunate enough that we have a lot of teachers who are bilingual. We have admin that’s bilingual, but that’s not everybody. So we do have to spend a lot of time on the phone reiterating instructions,” Gabriel said.
With so many loose ends, parents continue to worry.
“Am I doing right by my kids? Am I helping them enough where they can get to the next step?” Lynch said.
Educators say the reimagined education system must include a generous investment in family support in order to work.