Distance Learning Presents Extra Challenges to Homeless Families

Some homeless students are getting help with distance learning, thanks to a nonprofit, School on Wheels.


Erica Richardson and her two sons have lived in a room at a San Fernando Valley motel for the past year.

"When you got children, it's hard, really hard," she said.

It became even harder when the pandemic forced schools to close and distance learning began.

"We are just waiting for the schools to help them get logged onto Schoology," she said.

Distance learning has been difficult for most students but presents extra challenges for those experiencing homelessness.

"We had a parent that sent us a photo of her and her seven children in a motel room," said Charles Evans, the executive director of School on Wheels, a nonprofit that helps homeless students with a variety of academic support. "I mean it's almost virtually impossible to have the space that you need to actually perform well in your studies."

The organization is part of a collaborative effort, including Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and the mayor's office, to bring support to the students where they live.

Students experiencing homelessness have the highest rates of truancy. Some miss up to 50 school days a year, which puts them further behind, officials said.

Starting next week, they'll get the extra help they need, from School on Wheels tutors, at a pop-up learning center in the motel's courtyard.

"We are going to provide Chromebooks, we have headphones that we are giving out for each individual student and we are going to provide a lot of worksheets in terms of for supplemental activities as well," Evans said.

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