BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — We’ve all heard the stories about how many American families are struggling with remote learning in their homes. But imagine not understanding the English language.
Many Buffalo Public School families from other countries are also finding it difficult for their school children.
“We all know that education is they key foundation of our lives, so if there's none —there's no bright future,” remarked Asukulu Resor, Solidarity for Refugees & Immigrants.
Resor is from the Congo. He’s only been in Buffalo three years, but is helping to support other international families living in the city.
Resor said remote learning during a pandemic is a major challenge for refugee families attending city schools because of language barriers.
“A lot of those kids are new in America — some of them — they don't — not even their parents — kids themselves — they don't know anything about English,” Resor explained.
“Getting the information to the communities and I would say that's probably one of the biggest challenges,” said Denise Phillips Beehag, director, New American Integration, Buffalo’s International Institute.
Beehag said international families struggle just like American families with remote learning.
But language and translating the information is tough.
“Not so much the creation of the multi lingual materials or the existence of a multi lingual hot line for parents to access, but do the parents know that those things exists,” Beehag noted.
Many of the immigrant and refugee city school students attend Lafayette International Community High School on the city’s west side. 500 students are currently enrolled.
“I’d be lying if I said that our students and families in general weren't struggling because they are really are,” stated Lafayette International Community High School on the city’s west side.
Starkey said by no fault of the district an IT divide is a significant issue for international students.
“But a lot of the issues revolve around limited wifi,” Starkey said.
Starkey said many students live with extended families.
“They aren't always able to ask their parents or whatever adults are in the home at the time they're studying for help because they themselves are limited in English,” replied Starkey.
The school district has provided laptops and iPads, but there is still confusion.
“Those kids they don't even understand what is going on with the remote learning — they just thought maybe mom bought for them to be playing the games,” Resor.
The district does provide translators to help the many English language learners and the district expects it will remain fully remote until at least the beginning of February as it begins phases of in-person-learning.