Liaison helps Latinx families navigate remote school by sabine poux
The Anchorage School District has just pushed back its in-person classes starting date indefinitely, meaning families and teachers will continue to conduct learning remotely for the foreseeable future. For parents and students who are English-language learners (ELL), homeschooling brings unique challenges. And navigating technology and assignments can be even more difficult when parents are not home all day to help out. That’s where Karim Otaegui comes in. She’s the Spanish language and cultural liaison for the Anchorage School District. “What we have been doing is every Wednesday, we have been having virtual workshops through Zoom, in Spanish, about different topics,” she said.
Otaegui said around 55 families attend each Zoom session, which center around everything from contacting teachers about difficult assignments to obtaining Chromebooks. The Anchorage School District has sent Chromebook to its students that don’t have access to computers; internet connectivity is also available to families upon request.
Arthur Sosa, the principal at Abbott Loop Elementary School, said a lack of technological know-how can be a big stressor for parents. “If you compare a household that has parents that are not really technologically inclined, and now they’re in a position of having to support their child in a way that they’re not even comfortable themselves, it causes a lot of stress for the parent, it causes a lot of stress for the child,” he said. New technologies and portals have certainly provided learning curves for the families and staff involved in using them.
Otaegui said she will sometimes help students to submit assignments if their parents don’t know how. She’s also been helping families figure out how to balance work and homeschooling. “To be honest, some students are not doing their Zooms, because there’s not that person who will say, ‘It’s your time, you need to go, you have Zoom in the next 10 minutes.’ So, they sometimes rely on an older sibling or a grandmother,” she said. From time to time, Otaegui herself will make calls to students reminding them to “go” to class. “My families know I mean well,” she said with a laugh.
There are other teachers and liaisons in the Anchorage School District that speak Spanish and can help ELL families, as well as a state Migrant Education program for migrant families and students. Sosa recommends reaching out to get connected. - You can reach Otaegui at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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