The future of homeless students is concerned ahead of the start of the school year in the Big Apple

He next September 21 face-to-face and virtual classes will begin in the more than 1,700 schools from Big Appleafter a grueling ‘tug of war’ between teachers, parents, activists and the Administration De Blasio, about the future of public education amid the coronavirus pandemic. Between the 16 and 18 The online instructional orientation process will begin in September so that all students are aware of the health and safety protocols and verify the connection of their virtual equipment.

And the manifest fear that the decision of the mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen schools could cause a new outbreak of COVID-19 infectionswhich until now has been kept at bay in the city, adds to the concern about the fate they will have about 100,000 homeless students in the city.

To the complaints, doubts and indications about the no specific plan explain in detail how the Alcaldia It will help children and adolescents without a home of their own to have full access to their classes, as well as the fear of parents who currently live with their children in shelters or in apartments with housing programs for the homeless, who claim they do not have the basic elements such as computers, tablets, quality internet and even direct support to know how to handle technological equipment, if they have already received it.

This is how he confesses Maria Moralesa single mother of two boys going to high school, who notices that one of her sons is still waiting for a tablet that he has been promised since the end of last school year to arrive.

I decided that I am not going to send my children to classes Rather, they are going to take them online, because I am worried that they will get sick at school, but the problem is that there is only one tablet and the other never arrived and they do not give me an answer,” says the Mexican, who lives in a shelter in Manhattan. . “In addition, another problem is that I don’t know technology and nobody has explained anything to me about these devices and so I can’t help my children and when the youngest can’t do something, she gets stressed and it stresses me. I don’t feel ready for them to start.”

Shelters without high speed internet

Jose Rodriguez, 18-year-old homeless student in his last year of high school complains about the lack of high-speed internet at the shelter where he lives to keep him connected at all times. And although he assures that taking classes online bores him, he prefers to do it because he feels safer than going to his school in person.

“I don’t want to dump all the dirty water on the City, because they at least sent us tablets to be able to enter remote classes, but unlike other children who have their homes and their parents work, we don’t have anything, so one I would expect schools to link entertaining activities and even plans that make you bored and not just give boring classes and classes on a computer,” said the young man. “In addition, the other problem is that sometimes the internet slows down and the teachers believe that you are not taking the classes and they force you to put the camera on and that makes me feel sorry because I don’t want the other children to see how bad it is. we live. That should be reconsidered.”

Erika Cuate, who lives with her four children, between 5 and 12 years old, in a hostel in the WIN organization that runs 10% of all shelters in the Big AppleShe declared herself lucky since she says that minors each have their tablet to study virtually, but she assures that she knows of friends and family who are seeing the dark path, as happened to her a few months ago.

“At first it was very difficult because my 4 children had to do their work from my phone. They had to take turns and they stayed like that for more than two weeks until the tablets were sent to them, but it’s not the same to be studying like this and there are people I know whose tablets have been damaged and others have nothing, so I think they should help them more”, said the Mexican mother, who called for the creation of an effective help line.

“They should put a line for that parents call by phone and advise us, because the DOE (The City Department of Education) only sends text messages and e-mails and sometimes there are parents who don’t understand and you get stressed because you don’t know how to use those devices”, commented Erika. “For me it was stressful and difficult, especially with the two little girls, I had to find the way by myself, because nobody taught me anything.”

They ask for a commitment to 100,000 students

Christine Quinn, President and CEO of WINNew York City’s largest provider of shelter and support services to homeless women and children, gathering some complaints from parents and students, said that the City must commit in not leaving homeless students asidemissing so little for classes to start.

“The City must now focus on serving the needs of more than 100,000 homeless students who have been left without the tools they need for remote learning since the pandemic occurred last March, and of the parents who were left without support as they try to supervise learning from the shelters”, said the former president of the City Council, recalling that in the spring the City left homeless students for two weeks without resources to be able to study. Delivered support tablets late.

“The City has an opportunity to course correct and immediately work with providers like WIN to give homeless students the resources they desperately need to succeed. This includes everything from tech support to social workers from ‘Bridging the Gap’, and information on safe transportation to and from school,” Quinn said. “We have an opportunity to make this right for our most vulnerable students – let’s not waste it.“.

The WIN President He added that his concern extends to face-to-face classes, since homeless children are more vulnerable, due to pre-existing conditions such as asthma, and asked the City to invest more in them and also in their parents.

We got broken promises from the mayor, who assured that our homeless children were going to be a priority and there is nothing to prove that it will be so. We don’t see the City handling this issue of connectivity and additional resources. In addition, more support is needed for parents and homeless moms who are less technologically savvy. That doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, it just means they need more guidance,” Quinn warned, noting that Emotional support is also needed. since the pandemic has isolated the little helpless more.

85% of homeless students are Black or Latino

Diana Cruzdirector of Educational Policy of la Hispanic Federationalso called on the municipal authorities to take action on the matter regarding the complaints and fears of the homeless student population and their parents, to guarantee that they can have fair access to educational plans in the midst of the pandemic.

“If we don’t address the concerns facing homeless students, 85% of whom are Black or Latino, regarding the reopening of schools and the lack of resources to guarantee access to remote learning, we will not only aggravate the effects of the pandemic, but the disparities that these students already face,” Cruz said, while asking schools take this issue as a priority.

“With 10% of the New York City student population experiencing homelessness, we encourage school districts to address the learning loss and trauma of these students who face the most challenges in finding resources” , mentioned the activist. “We urge you to consider spaces that can support learning, whether face-to-face or remote, while helping to mitigate problems meeting basic needs such as food security, health care supports, unemployment, and childcare. children”.

DOE: Homeless are a priority

After hearing the concerns raised, el DO He stated that they have put students who live in a situation of helplessness at the top of their priorities and recalled that they have delivered thousands of computers so that children can take their virtual classes.

“We have made it a priority that our most vulnerable students have what they need to stay connected every step of the way, and we have distributed more than 320.00 Internet-enabled iPads, with approximately 15,000 students in shelters of homeless people,” said Sarah CasasnovasDOE spokeswoman, warning that they will continue to give more devices.

“Our schools will continue to distribute iPads and devices to anyone who needs them, and we have approximately 20,000 iPads that will be prioritized for students residing in shelters for the homeless or shelters for victims of domestic violence,” said Casasnovas. “Our schools will use the educational orientation of the September 16 to 18 to make sure students are connected and registered, and to help set students and their families up for success.”

About requesting a helplinethe DOE assured that parents and children who are having trouble handling the devices can call 311 and ask for help or fill out the Family Support Form for additional support.

Avery Cohen, spokesperson for the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, He also highlighted that as part of the support programs for homeless students, in addition to basic services, there is an emotional support initiative and food delivery plans.

“In addition to giving our students in shelters priority access to bus service and child care, we have our Bridge Plan to complete and enveloping support services, which provide our children with the emotional support and enrichment they need to start the school year,” said the official, reiterating the delivery of equipment to the children. “To remove any potential barriers to quality education, we have provided free LTE-enabled iPads to all students in our shelters. We will continue to do everything we can to help children thrive regardless of their ZIP code.”

Homeless students in numbers:

  • Classes will begin on September 21 in face-to-face and virtual schools
  • On September 16 and 18, the online instructional orientation process will begin so that all students are aware of the health and safety protocols and verify the connection of their virtual equipment
  • An estimated 100,000 homeless students are in schools.
  • 85% of those homeless students are Latino and black.
  • 32,000 iPads enabled with internet service ensures the DOE has distributed.
  • 15,000 kits have been delivered to students in shelters.
  • An additional 20,000 iPads will be delivered to students in hostels in the coming days.
  • From September 16 to 18, the DOE will ensure that all students have everything to be connected to classes.
  • 311 is the hotline for parents and students to request help or report a lack of equipment.