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Edgar and Sebastian

Back to School!

The beginning of a new school year is usually a special time of year. Freshly sharpened pencils and un-scarred notebooks accompany new school shoes and back-to-school clothes. With this new start there are often promises of more disciplined study habits and improved grades. TODAY, Santa Fe Public Schools begin the new school year with nine weeks of distance learning - students won't be walking through the hallways on the first day greeted by teachers and faculty. While Communities In Schools continues to support students and their families, there is still so much for them to navigate. How does this virtual platform impact Communities In Schools students and their families?

Sebastian and his father, Edgar: Eleven-year-old Sebastian has been anticipating the start of this school year as a new student at Ortiz Middle School! He has his Chromebook from the district, and access to WiFi. However, Sebastian is understandably nervous about finding his way in a new school where he does not know the teachers - and so far, he doesn't think any of his friends are in his class. Overall though, you can hear enthusiasm in his voice.

Edgar, Sebastian's father, finds this school year much more challenging. A single father, he is very engaged with his only son's studies, but virtual school forces him to stay home, too. Legally, Edgar cannot leave his son alone, and because of COVID, he can't share childcare with neighbors. The pandemic has them trapped at home - and Edgar desperately needs to work.

"Last March, when students were suddenly learning virtually from home, I had work, and I did trust Sebastian to be at home by himself." comments Edgar, "Eventually, we got reported for having my son alone at home - I had to leave my job." A hardworking and determined person, Edgar has been taking online classes at the community college to become a teacher's aid. But the situation remains challenging, "The bills keep coming and Sebastian and I need to eat. When my son can't go to school I can't go to work." So they live together in their modest trailer home - struggling to find their way while fighting anxiety and fear. "CIS is always reaching out to me to learn where we need support, and we have been connected to resources for help. But as time goes by, these resources are drying up. I really do not know what to do". On top of the demands to take care of their most basic needs, Edgar knows it is just a matter of time before school starts to tell them about other materials Sebastian will need for the school year. "I hope the Chromebook will be enough, because we won't be able to find the rest".

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The work of Communities In Schools of New Mexico is designed to create greater equity and access for all kids - from Pre-K through the 12th grade, ensuring students can stay in school, graduate and achieve in life. In Santa Fe, many CIS students don't have access to essential learning resources.

You can change that!

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