SCS helping bilingual students navigate virtual learning

Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There are about 15,000 bilingual students at Shelby County Schools. While starting the school year fully virtual is new to everyone, for those still learning English there are some extra hurdles to jump.

"Certainly if you're trying to learn something in the virtual world as well as now I have this language barrier, we want to make sure you have someone to explain this to you in a way you can understand," SCS ESL Program Director Debra Frantz said.

Since the release of its S.A.F.E. School Reentry Plan, Shelby County Schools has had to look at all aspects of school and how it will work in a virtual setting- everything from uniforms to lunch to student supervision. The district has also had to shape plans special to several student groups like English as a Second Language or ESL students.

“We really look at each individual’s English language proficiency levels,” Frantz said. “So ‘student A’ may need more support and more information presented in their home language.”

Frantz said some ESL students will still have individual access to ESL mentors during their virtual schooling day. ESL staff has been on hand during digital device distribution all month.

"We've had questions from our English learners," Frantz said. "How do I get connected? What are my next steps?"

SCS will continue to host virtual events to empower the ESL community, like Family Connected which helps navigate immigrant families through the U.S. educational system. The program is in 14 SCS schools with more to come.

The district will also host a virtual family forum in English and Spanish this Saturday where support for ESL and students with disabilities will be laid out. For more on the forum, click here.

Resources for ESL families, including bilingual counselors, can be found here.

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