HUNTINGTON PARK, Calif. — Every weekday morning, LAUSD parent Aida sits at a makeshift office on the porch of her Huntington Park home.

"I created this space in the summer. It's now winter, and so it's a little cold, but I continue tuning into the meetings and Zoom calls," Aida said in Spanish.

What You Need To Know

  • LAUSD will not go back to in-person instruction in January as many parents hoped

  • Students of color have fallen behind twice as many months as white students, according to a recent study by McKinsey and Company

  • LAUSD teachers will offer extra office hours beginning in January

  • LAUSD and UTLA must come to an agreement by January 24th to provide hybrid instruction plans for high-needs students

Meetings and Zoom calls with teachers, school board members, and even the principal because her daughter is still struggling with distance learning nine months into the process.

"I see my daughter in a corner, sad, stressed out, without being able to connect," said Aida, who is originally from Bolivia.

Her daughter, an English learner, falls more and more behind every week she is out of the classroom.

"There are problems with the connection, with the technology, with the internet – sometimes the internet crashes," Aida said.

Aida, who cleans homes for a living, has started to take on extra houses a week to pay for high-speed internet. She is doing all she can, and yet it is not enough, she said. Her daughter still needs so much more help and individual attention.

"It hurts. As a mother, it hurts," said Aida as tears swelled up in her eyes. "This impact will mark my daughter's life because she is looking for a quality education, and she's not getting that. She has asked for help in every way, and so have I, and we haven't gotten any help."

Help is what the Superintendent for Los Angeles County Office of Education Dr. Debra Duardo has been trying to provide to students since schools closed in March.

"We know that for our low-income families, who are predominately children of color, they had less access to computers and the internet to be able to really engage in their classroom instruction," Duardo said.

From technology to language issues, students of color have fallen behind twice as many white students, according to a recent study by McKinsey and Company.

Duardo's office has been requesting extra funds from officials and surveying superintendents to see what is needed and where.

"L.A. County Board of Supervisors, who have been incredibly supportive, first they gave us over $12.5 million to close that digital divide across the county. They just gave us an additional $4.7 million. We surveyed all of our superintendents, we have 80 in L.A. County, and we asked them what the gap is in terms of their need for devices and internet connectivity. We have already started delivering those devices to the districts," Duardo said. 

However, plans that would make the biggest difference — in-person instruction — have had to be scaled back at LAUSD and other districts because of the new COVID-19 surge. Some districts, including LAUSD are offering extra office hours and resources.

"We are trying to avoid children having to repeat a grade. We are trying to do everything possible to bring those that are experiencing difficulty back early, so we can catch them up and give them the support they need," Duardo said.

Aida said she hopes her daughter gets that extra support in the coming months.

For her next parent meeting, Aida wrote a poem about 2020 to share with other parents.

"We've seen our sons and daughters adapt, learning new skills, and bettering themselves, bravo, a round of applause for our children, that are our heroes, who spent hours staring at a computer," she said as she cried through the words.

Aida said she came to this country trying to give her child a shot at a better future – one she feels keeps slipping away every time her daughter sits in front of a computer instead of a classroom.