Our kids are in need of more support than ever with all the variables involved in distance learning.

The Internet isn’t working, and my screen keeps freezing. I don’t know my username or password. This student hasn’t attended any of their Zoom meetings. What time are my teacher’s meetings? I have to wake up by 8:30am? What do you mean, ‘school started?’ My computer doesn’t have any sound. The whole screen is in another language! I don’t understand the assignments. None of the assignments have been done in her Google Classroom. My computer won’t charge.

SDRT began 11 years ago as a response to the educational gaps of refugee students. Distance learning just widened those gaps even more. The questions and comments above have all been stated or asked multiple times over the past couple of weeks as ‘school officially started.’ Many of our students are lost. Their parents struggle to support their learning online. Once one problem is fixed, another one occurs. Our students are falling further and further behind their peers.

TEAM SDRT is working overtime to contact teachers, translators and school officials to help solve each problem that arises. TEAM SDRT is delivering paper packets to kids whose schoolwork that is posted online is far too difficult for them to access. TEAM SDRT is meeting with kids and helping them understand what is posted where and how to do the work. Some are being taught basic skills so they can attempt the harder ones being asked. TEAM SDRT might be waking some kids up in time for their Zoom meetings! Some kids require a masked adult six feet away while they meet up with their class on Google Meet for the first time. All of our students could use quite a bit more accountability.

TEAM SDRT won’t give up. We will make and print schedules with ZOOM ID numbers. We will request hotspots and purchase extra workbooks and flashcards. We will keep teaching kids how to use technology and access their work. We will call, check in and text to remind kids and parents about what is expected at this time. We will keep bringing our kids the books they request! We want our kids to succeed, even if it requires a lot more during distance learning.

Despite these challenges, we are beginning to see small victories. Older siblings are stepping up by tutoring and setting up Zoom meetings for their younger siblings. We have a fourth grade student who is teaching his peers how to access the programs and apps they need. One of our most timid students is speaking up and asking questions at his teacher’s Zoom meetings. Several students are asking for more homework packets from SDRT. One student who has been here for less than two years has begun turning in her online assignments!
These moments are what keep us going.

Thank you to those of you who delivered all the handmade masks to us! We are distributing them as fast as we receive them. We also got another large load from Sprouts, enabling TEAM SDRT to deliver fresh produce and chickens to 18 families! Thank you, once again, Cohn family! 

Thank you for your continued support. This takes a village!

You can help SDRT continue this work by donating on our website!

P.S. Would you like to support local businesses run by refugees? Buy a face mask or order your next meal for take-out or delivery from one of our refugee neighbors!

About Melissa Phillips

Melissa is one of the founders and currently serves as administrator of San Diego Refugee Tutoring. She has four incredible children, years of teaching experience and a supportive husband who also works in education.

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