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Groups work towards bridging gap between remote learning and ESL students

JCPS has around 12,000 English learners, speaking more than 150 languages.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With the new school year starting next week, NTI can be especially challenging for Jefferson County Public School students who are learning the English language.

"The challenge was the baby, because he's only three and he was diagnosed with autism, so it was even harder to make him sit in front of a computer," parent Gretel Gongora said.

Gongora has a 3-year-old and an eighth grader enrolled in JCPS. Like many parents, navigating last spring's NTI while balancing work was anything but easy. 

"And then doing that at the same time taking care of my baby who sometimes puts himself in danger — and he is not willing to do anything or any kind of NTI activity — it was pretty pretty hard for me it was a whole challenge," Gongora said.

But JCPS is hoping to lift the burden off the shoulders of parents like Gongora.

"The pandemic has not been a limitation for teaching and for learning," said Berta Weyenberg, an ESL Inake Center coordinator.

Weyenberg said there are 12,000 English learners across the district, speaking more than 150 languages. JCPS has a 313 helpline for translation services and offers virtual and in-person interpreting support. 

"What we do for Spanish speakers, we can do for Somali speakers, Vietnamese, French speakers, any of the other languages," Weyenberg said.

Americana is working on creating a community learning hub that will be geared towards students in NTI who are English learners. 

"Parents and children may have limited access to technology and also limited skill set using the technology that we're currently putting in place for education this year," said Emily Deyer with Americana.

Dyer started registration for English learners to take part in its community learning hub.

"Applying a generational approach in which we support the parents as well and give them digital literacy tools and skills that they may not have had access to otherwise," Dyer said.

A limited number of students will be able to work with staff and computers so they can learn skills that they can take back home with them. The program is expected to start between late August and early September. 

RELATED: JCPS to continue serving meals with possible changes once NTI starts

RELATED: Community donors give $143,000 to JCPS Technology Initiative

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