new York – Themarks a break in what is perhaps the most challenging school year this country has ever seen.
More than 60% of American students have had to study remotely, at least temporarily. This was a hardship for everyone, but especially for homeless students.
Meanwhile, Jasmine Perez has been shuffling through three New York shelterswith her husband and four children.
“I have problems reading and writing. I’ve been through it and I don’t want my kids to do it,” said Perez.
The Perez children are lucky if they can stay connected to Wi-Fi for more than two minutes in their shelter to learn virtually.
“It’s just so hard,” said 8-year-old Kaylie, the youngest, adding that she was falling behind.
“When I was young I didn’t have the right training,” said Perez. “… when they grow up we want to be lawyers. They want to be teachers. They want to be artists. They need a diploma. They have to be successful.”
It is estimated that more than 16,000 children live in family homes in New York. Nine months after the pandemic, many of them still have weak or no WiFi, making virtual education inaccessible.
“Our position is that it was long enough,” said Susan Horwitz, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society. They are now suing, hoping to force the city to provide all family accommodations with reliable internet access by January 4th at the latest.
“The people who live in emergency shelters are in the population group that was just destroyed by COVID,” said Horwitz. “They are poor, they are black and brown. They are people who have difficulty putting food on the table and staying housed every day.”
15-year-old Aaron Morris has lived in an animal shelter for a year and hopes his weak WiFi won’t fulfill his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer.
“I used to be between 99 and 100 and it just falls off from there, which makes me really upset,” said Morris. “I just want to tell my parents that I don’t want to go to school and I don’t want to.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city couldn’t offer a detailed schedule for Wi-Fi installation but hoped it would be done by next summer after the school year ended.