Haitian educators prepare for school year defined by remote learning, social distancing

By Sam Bojarski 

Since March, New York City and Miami have been epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Educators in both regions have voiced significant concerns about the return to classes, which is only weeks away. 

“Many of the schools are very, very crowded so social distancing … we couldn’t even see how that was going to happen,” said Nancy St. Leger, who teaches special education at Coconut Grove Elementary, in Miami.

Teachers are concerned that pandemic guidelines might impact students’ ability to learn. Within the Haitian community in particular, students with limited English skills might have the most difficult time with virtual learning. Many parents are essential workers and may also lack the technology skills to help their children learn remotely, on electronic devices. 

Coronavirus cases have surged throughout Florida for more than a month, and Miami-Dade County public schools will start the school year on Aug. 31, with remote classes. In New York City, schools will divide their student populations into cohorts, with students receiving between one and three in-person days per week, depending on their school’s learning model. Parents in New York City had until Aug. 7 to opt for fully remote instruction. The Haitian community in both regions includes many essential workers, a situation that poses difficulties for remote learning. 

While the number of coronavirus cases in New York state was nearly 12 times higher than Florida as of April 1, Florida has since eclipsed New York in total cases recorded. As New York City’s COVID-19 positivity rate hovered around 1 percent, Miami-Dade’s positivity rate was 12.5 percent, as of Aug. 3. 


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Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski has been covering Haiti and its diaspora for The Haitian Times since 2018. He is currently covering New York’s Haitian community as a Report for America corps member.

Sam Bojarski

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