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Virtual Classes Pose Challenge For Hispanic Families

Books stacked on top of each other to the right of the frame.
Sharon McCutcheon
Many schools in Iowa offer parents the opportunity to choose between online classes or in-person classes for the upcoming school year.

Iowa schools start up again next month and parents face the question of whether or not to send their kids back. Many Hispanic families in the state have to consider a few different factors as summer vacation wraps up.

Many schools in Iowa are offering virtual classes as an option for students whose families are concerned about the coronavirus, but that really isn’t an option for some Hispanic parents. Many are immigrants who are essential workers or cannot take leave from work to have their kids learning from home.

Erika Morales of Des Moines said she is one of the lucky ones. She has two children in high school and can work from home.

“I understand that a lot of parents, they are ready for the kids to go back to school because they have to work," Morales said. "They have to leave the house to go to work and they don't have the support or the tools to keep the kids at home and to do homeschooling."

Morales said she is fortunate to understand English well enough to help her kids with their transition to a “new lifestyle,” unlike many other Spanish-speaking families who rely only on the translated guidance provided by the Iowa Department of Education.

She said she will keep her kids at home for the first semester to make space for Hispanic families who have no other choice but to send their children to school. Morales said many Hispanic parents are scared to send their kids back, but they don’t have any other option.

"A lot of other Hispanic people, they really need to go to work, because they don't have any other choice. They need to keep paying their bills and food and things like that. So that's why I say it's really, really complex topic," Morales said.

Morales said she hopes school districts will provide more resources for immigrant and non-English speaking families.