ABC7 News article by: Juan Carlos Guerrero
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) — You don’t have to tell Elizabeth Rodriguez how tough distance learning has been on students. She sees it in her son every day.
“His grades have dropped,” said Rodriguez as she watches her son sit on the kitchen table and stare unenthusiastically at his laptop for the start of his math class over Zoom.
“He didn’t use to be this way. He used to put more effort, but now something is off,” adds Rodriguez.
Her son, Eduardo Mendoza, is an 8th grader at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael.
Despite the best efforts of his teacher to keep kids engaged, Mendoza looks blankly at the screen as class time ticks by.
“There is not much to do but work,” he explains about his lack of interest. Mendoza admits he gets distracted by his cellphone and videogames.
Unlike many students who have been doing distance learning with their parents nearby, Mendoza must go at it with little oversight.
His parents are both front-line workers, so they leave their home in the Canal area of San Rafael every day to go to work. Eduardo and his sister Neady Mendoza stay home alone to navigate school online.
“To not have parents at home to help you, to guide you or look over you while you are doing your work makes it really hard. The students have to do it all themselves,” said Air Gallegos, director of education and careers at Canal Alliance.
The nonprofit offers social services to people in the Canal area, most of whom are Latinos. A survey done in June of 2020 found that only 43% of families in the Canal had a computer at home, compared to 90% for the rest of Marin.
Access to high-speed internet is also a challenge. Many families rely mostly on their cellphones to get online.
This digital divide was already putting kids in this area behind, but COVID-19 has deepened the divide.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen like a 40% increase in students who are receiving Ds and Fs, who are struggling with distance learning and online formats,” said Gallegos.
Canal Alliance is trying to help. It runs an after-school program that offers tutoring and homework help for students.
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