Students in Huntsville City Schools are beginning the second week of the new school year learning virtually.
Vilmaliz Hernandez-Barea has two children in the school district. She says that virtual learning was always the plan for this fall for her seventh and twelfth grader and that the district’s decision to go virtual for the first nine weeks did not come as a surprise.
“I expected it. I knew they're not going to start doing it traditional because the virus is really dangerous," Hernandez-Barea said.
She says that online learning has been going well for her children, but she recognizes that this is not the case for all families, especially for non-English speakers or students learning English as a second language.
"They say it's hard because of the language, they don't know the language and how to help the kids, they don't know the computer, how to get in here and how to get in there—it's a lot of things, there's too many pages, there's too many programs to learn," Hernandez-Barea said.
Hernandez-Barea is the admin for a Facebook Page for the Huntsville community, where many have been going to seek help with their children’s virtual schooling. She says she has been helping others with translation, as the language barrier has made it more difficult for parents to communicate with schools.
"The problem schools are having is that schools don't have someone who speaks Spanish. So, if I call the school and I don't know English, well I'm not going to be able to explain what I need, so that's why I can translate and I can make a conference call and call the school for the question the parent has," Hernandez-Barea said.
She says that she especially worries about the impact of virtual learning on younger students who are learning English.
"When a child doesn't know the language and when a child can't read, it's very depressing because that child isn't going to learn, it's going to be very hard to learn," Hernandez-Barea said.