When Gov. Phil Murphy had to shut down schools and businesses as a result of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, all learning and teaching in Egg Harbor Township Schools shifted to virtual platforms.
For Jenny Dilks, the district’s bilingual parent coordinator, assisting Spanish-speaking parents and students became more challenging. More than one quarter of the schildren in township chools are Hispanic, and though the majority speak both English and Spanish, some of the families are more comfortable speaking in their first language, Spanish.
The shift from classes in person in school buildings to online platforms has been a major shift for everyone involved. Teachers and students alike have had to get accustomed to an entirely new format for teaching and learning with very little time to do so. Parents, who are now monitoring their children’s learning in a whole new way, understandably have many questions.
With that in mind Dilks re-designed the event known as Noche Latina, which is held twice per year especially for Spanish-speaking parents. The new focus of the spring meeting: to help parents learn about the virtual platform Google Classroom that their children are now using everyday in all of their classes.
On Thursday, May 7, more than 50 families used Google Meet to connect simultaneously to the first ever Virtual Noche Latina. Parents listened and watched while Dilks demonstrated where and how to access their children’s grades online, where to find the virtual learning schedules for each of the buildings in the district and how to understand them. They learned how to view their child’s classwork in Google Classroom and how children should turn in assignments. Parents used the chat feature both to ask Dilks questions and also to answer questions she asked of them.
The event was a resounding success, and the parents were so thankful for the opportunity to learn more about what their children are expected to do everyday. The Egg Harbor Township Education Association sponsored the event and purchased pizzas that were delivered to all families who attended the event.
This was the district’s fourth Noche Latina, with all three previous events being face-to-face gatherings in which parents and families gathered at the high school to share a meal together and to attend an educational session led by Dilks.
Parents who were unable to attend the Noche Latina can access the information presented on the district’s webpage RecursosParaPadres.Weebly.com.