Wake educators share remote learning tips for N.C. Latino parents, parent engagement tips for schools

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Several Wake educators offered free remote learning advice and resources to struggling Spanish-speaking parents last Wednesday during a free, half-day conference broadcast across North Carolina.

The conference, the REAL 2.0 (Remote Education & Learning) Conference, was hosted by the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, along with several other education-oriented organizations, as a part of a state initiative to close digital literacy gaps, called NC Student Connect.

Though most presenters led sessions in English, several educators from the Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) Family Academy led three in Spanish, which taught listeners about their children’s virtual learning platforms, the college application process and family mental wellness during COVID-19-related school closures.

A district program, the WCPSS Family Academy strives to connect families with the tools their children need to succeed in school. To that end, they have hosted numerous online workshops in many different languages — including Spanish — about virtual learning tools and strategies. Two educators involved in that program — Alma Davalos and MariaRosa Rangel — led or facilitated all three conference sessions.

Rangel, who works in Wake County Public Schools’ equity department, oversees the district’s Family Academy program while Davalos works as a Family Academy coordinator. Here are several ways both thought North Carolina’s Latino parents can support their children during remote learning:

  • Set aside a designated workspace for your children.
  • Know your child’s routine and check on them frequently, or find others to do it. Be involved.
  • Familiarize yourself with your children’s online learning platforms and tools.
  • Maintain contact with your children’s teachers, and ask the schools for help when you need it.

Para más consejos y recursos, visite nuestra versión en español.

All three sessions were recorded and will be available in about a week on the conference's website, ncstudentconnect.com.

For schools and teachers

Rangel also shared some advice and pointers for teachers and schools who count Spanish-speaking families and students among those they serve.

Reach out to all your families, in person and online, she suggested; know your demographics, and pinpoint those families “who are going to be in more need.”

“It’s using your social workers, your counselors, ESL teachers to reach out to these families,” she told the News + Record. “It’s about building relationships. It’s about trust. And COVID-19 has really amplified those inequities, and we as educators need to make sure that we are attending to those inequities by reaching out to those who most need it.”

Many Hispanic families in Siler City have struggled with technology literacy, as the News + Record has reported in the past. Some districts offer customer service assistance with technology, but Rangel said that sometimes that’s not enough.

“The things that I’m telling the school (are) that true, you could provide this customer service, but the parents don’t know and understand. It defeats the purpose,” she said. “So I’m asking schools to provide at least one week, following all the protocols, to allow parents to come to the building so that you can see what’s wrong with the device and fix it right there and then.”

But schools could also go directly to parents to provide support, she added.

In Wake County, Rangel said schools are going out into the community, especially into the most isolated areas, to provide COVID-19 testing and other assistance.

“If they need books, we give them books,” she told the News + Record. “If they need a food voucher, there’s maybe some folks giving vouchers for food. So again, it’s taking the resources to them, obviously, following protocol. And we have to be intentional and intentional means going out.”

If some students aren’t showing up for class, Rangel also suggested that teachers or staff call families and ask what they can do to help.

“You don’t want to call back to know why the child is not showing up. Just say, you know, ‘We have concerns. We wonder if there’s an issue with technology or anything going on that we could help you with,’” she said. “And then families will be more open to open up and say, maybe they haven’t paid the electric bill, and that’s why there’s no connectivity.”

Tap into the schools’ resources for help, she added; loop in your social workers, ESL coordinators, interpreters and translators.

“We have to reach out and find out what’s happened,” Rangel said. “(Parents) want to tell you, ‘This is what’s been happening. This is where we are.’”

Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at victoria@chathamnr.com.

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