New technology poses challenges during pandemicBy CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Technology is making school possible in this pandemic for LAUSD students.

But for many families, especially some of the more than 80 percent who live at or below the poverty line, it’s also a major obstacle.

“For many parents who don’t speak English who’ve never had anything but maybe a mobile, they really needed basic training,” said Jenny Hontz of Speak Up. “We found many parents didn’t have an email account, didn’t know how to reach anybody at their schools, so we had to teach them to set up a Gmail account.

“They were calling but of course nobody was at the school answering the phone.”

Hontz is the communications director for Speak Up Parents, a group that has been working to fill the gaps in education, especially during this pandemic.

She says after seeing the need in March, they created iFamily, a free technology training tool for parents and their children.

LAUSD says they continue to make sure every student has a device and internet connection, and have added more training including a YouTube channel to help answer questions.

And come fall, the first week of school will focus on getting families trained on the tech.

“From August 20-28 we’ll have time to spend time with the communities and go through any technology issues that might come up as we’re Zooming,” said sixth grade teacher Cynthia Matthews.

Under an agreement reached Monday, LAUSD and UTLA say there will be 90-170 minutes of live instruction every day.

For some parents that’s not nearly enough, others say even that is a challenge.

And teachers tell us even when the technology is working the best it can, educating through it comes with unique challenges.

“There’s some students that might not want to speak up during the Zoom sessions and say they have a problem, where in the class we can walk around and see yeah this student is struggling and we’ll go work with them,” said Matthews.

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