(COURTESY KAHNAWAKE 911)
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Late on Sunday night, January 3, the Kahnawake Education Center (KEC) sent out a release informing parents that they would be reducing the number of students in schools due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in the community.
And as of Tuesday, January 5, schools were open for the children of essential workers only. The news caused confusion among some parents, said Robin Delaronde, the director of KEC.
“We made a sharp decrease in numbers within our schools at the beginning of the school year,” said Delaronde. “And prior to the Christmas break, we did have only a certain number at each of our schools on-site,” she said.
Moreover, according to the director, there was a second reduction that was done in the fall and some students transitioned to remote learning. In reality, the reduction mostly impacts vulnerable students who, prior to the Christmas break, were on site at the schools along with the children of essential workers.
“We are very concerned with our vulnerable population, and we will be monitoring this situation for the next week or two to see if the numbers of COVID-19 decrease in the community,” said Delaronde.
In the meantime, Delaronde and her team at KEC are trying to find ways to provide vulnerable students with the proper support and resources while they are at home.
“We are going to be going through the list of vulnerable students to determine if there is a possibility of servicing them starting very soon,” she said.
In fact, KEC is hoping to have the vulnerable students back in the schools by January 18.
Currently, the situation remains difficult for educators and parents as these children are struggling with learning in this way.
“Some of these students have learning disabilities or deal with attention deficit disorder. Some are in the autism spectrum or have been recommended to be on-site by Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS),” said Delaronde.
Delaronde said that at the beginning of the school year, KEC was very careful in choosing which students within the vulnerable category had to come back on-site.
But she reminded the community that parents who are essential workers also need support, and that is why their children are back in school.
“I really want to convey to the community that these are the parents who are driving community members to their hospital appointments. They are from Medical Transport. They are police officers. They are working at the hospital or working at the organizations.”
The director said it is very challenging for essential workers to be teaching their kids at home while they continue to provide essential services to the community.
On a positive note, Delaronde said that even with the new reduction and concerns for vulnerable students, they are in a better situation than during the first wave.
“We have more of the technology and support for online learning. And our schools have put in excellent measures to keep our staff and our students protected. We have taken a lot of precautions,” she said.