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Education disparities in Salinas

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The coronavirus pandemic hit hard in many ways. In Monterey County, teachers saw these challenges first hand in their classrooms, even before the lockdown.

Oscar Ramos is a second-grade teacher in Sherwood Elementary School. He’s been teaching for 25 years and for years he’s seen the disparities students face in class, but now, with the pandemic, they’ve become more apparent.

“Students don’t have good computers. They’re not new. They don’t have internet and if they do, it cuts off all the time," Ramos said. “It’s actually really sad but half of them were behind on their work because of the lack of resources.”

According to Ramos, the Latino community was most affected. Jose Asalvo also witnessed these issues firsthand as a student in Salinas.

“During the pandemic, I couldn’t get much help because my parents didn’t understand what I needed to do,” said Asalvo. “I saw many of my classmate's miss school, not finish their work…”

Monterey County Office of Education said they are aware of these problems and they’re in the process of creating a plan to solve these issues.

“We have a lot of work to do in ensuring that our students and our parents are able to receive the information they need in a language they can understand," Dr. Deenen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent said. "We have to do a better job of ensuring that if we are going to use technical devices that the programs that we use have the translation feature…”

The office plans to offer classes for parents on how to navigate the education system. They’ve also created an application. As far as food insecurities, schools will continue to offer breakfast and lunch to students who need it and the district hopes to continue doing this in the long run.

“This is our opportunity to put things in place," Dr. Guss said. "That really tear down those barriers that really provide the support for all students to be successful.”

On the other hand, Dr. Guss also mentioned that they’re in the process of implementing Fiber Optics to improve their internet access. But this could take months or even a year.

In the meantime, she said the goal is to make sure that every single student and their family feel loved and valued. Dr. Guss said, "We will do anything we can to make sure they don't miss out on that high-quality education that they so badly deserve."

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Melody Waintal

Melody Waintal is the Digital Content Reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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