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Poll shows Latino parents concerned about schools reopening, hit hardest by the virus

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Posted at 11:26 AM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 20:53:48-04

PUEBLO — Some families continue to struggle with schools reopening and teaching their children at home.

A new nationwide poll conducted by Somos, Unidos, and Latino Decisions shows Latino families are particularly feeling the pressure.

Jenna Martinez had a tough decision to make when it came to sending her kids back to school.

"Am I selfish for sending my child to school to have them there and have that free time or is it selfish of me to keep them home and not have that one on one interaction with their teacher," said Jenna. "I prefer her to be at home with me, but she likes in-person for one-on-one."

Both of her teenagers are starting the year with online-learning, but Jenna says it's too soon for schools to reopen. Her uncle agreed, saying there is just too much uncertainty with the virus.

"Children who go to school are going to catch the virus a lot faster because at first, they said children aren’t accessible to the virus. Now, they say they are, what’s the story," said Phillip Martinez.

One of Jenna's concerns is exposing her elderly mother who is on hospice.

"I’m an essential worker myself, I have to take double precautions where I’m going and bringing back to her and who we let come in the house so she doesn’t have complication on top of complication," said Jenna.

According to the poll, about 49 percent of parents in Colorado say they're not sending their children back to school while 37 percent of those with college students are also on the fence. Parents are also worried about the health of their children and teachers if they go back in-person.

The poll found that Latino parents also face barriers to online learning. More than one-third have no one to stay home with kids, lack home WiFi, and training with specific programs and platforms to help with online school. Some are concerned that online learning will prevent their children from getting meals.

"They get breakfast at school, they get lunch at school. I’ve heard a lot of people say they wonder how they’re going to be able to feed their kids all day long and not having transportation to get to the food pantries," said Jenna.

The Martinez family says they've heard Latinos have been hit hardest by the virus, but they believe the media is just trying to scare people.

"I think it’s not only the Latinos or Blacks, I think it’s affecting everybody in general and they shouldn’t single out one minority," said Phillip.

"Even though we are out in the workforce every day, so is everybody else. Some kind of ethnicity is doing some kind of important job out there. Why is the virus saying I’m singling out one particular race and saying it’s going to hit us the most," said Christopher Martinez. "I think it’s all about your immune system."

Evalina Lopez is also worried about sending her children back to school. She says her family is pretty active so it's been hard for them to stay at home for so long.

"It was really hard on us because we do a lot of traveling for wrestling so not having that readily available to us was hurtful," said Lopez.

She had originally planned on doing online, but her kids wanted to return to school in-person because they miss their friends.

"They were like we really want to go back to school. I was shocked because I was ready," said Lopez. "I bought supplies for home and they just wanted to go back to school to see their friends and teachers."

Lopez says she felt better when she heard about the school district's reopening plans.

"Our school (Pueblo District 60) actually notified us a couple of days before school, saying all of the precautions they were going to take and everything that was going to be in place and how the classrooms were going to be a lot smaller. I thought this is a good opportunity for my child to come back and excel at school," said Lopez. "The smaller class sizes really matter."

Due to the pandemic, her hours were cut at work, and she ultimately decided to stay at home with her five children. The poll found that over half of all Hispanic households have lost work or income (lay off, pay cut, closing their business) due to the pandemic.

"It was a blessing in disguise. We got to be with our kids more instead of working longer hours but also financially it was tough," said Lopez. "I think COVID has affected everyone positively and negatively. Negatively our hours were cut at work and financially some of us were hurting and you missed time from family and friends. The best part is I get to spend more time with my kids when they are young and need it the most."

Both parents said they just want to do what's best for their children during this time.