About twice a week, the $9.99 per month internet connection falters. It’s often as Mario Ramírez finally wrangles his kids into their seats — the fourth-grader studies in the bedroom he shares with his 12 year-old sister, who studies in her parents’ bedroom — in time for virtual class. The screens freeze — sometimes during online tests. At times the little one bursts into frustrated tears as they wait for their connection to resume, precious class time slipping away.
Though he hides it from his kids, Ramírez’ frustration spikes too, along with fear: What if this is the year that his kids lose interest in their education? In Ramírez’ view, it’s their ticket to a life unburdened by the monthly rent panic that Ramírez has often faced since immigrating from Mexico nearly 30 years ago.
“Sometimes I wonder, ‘Will my kids be unable to get ahead?’” Ramirez said in Spanish.
Depending on a student’s access to reliable internet, the last year of virtual school has ranged from enriching to impossibly discouraging.