English learners stopped coming to class during the pandemic. One group is tackling the problem by helping their parents

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“We realized before trying to address why your child isn’t going to school, we needed to ask, ‘What’s worrying you right now?’ That question really opened up all the reasons why going to school was not the first priority for many families: housing insecurity, food insecurity, job loss,”

The Charlotte-based afterschool program, ourBRIDGE for Kids, has been helping families of immigrant and refugee children address issues that prevented them from logging into class online or showing up to school buildings during the pandemic.

The nonprofit, which runs an afterschool program for around 230 children, has been connecting families with resources, delivering groceries to students’ homes, and acting as a call center when families needed help navigating the online learning system.

OurBRIDGE has been successful because it hires staff and volunteers who are immigrants themselves and speak the same languages as the families they serve. The district’s English learner population has grown significantly in the past year, from 27,405 students to 30,151.

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