MARYVALE, AZ — Transitioning to online school has been a great resource for many families as their children continue their education, but for others it only means another obstacle to overcome.
Lack of internet access, and no resources to keep children home or away from trouble is what worries David Solano, a teacher in Maryvale.
“I worry about some of their home lives, I worry about what they’re doing to stay healthy,” said Solano, a fifth grade teacher and director of Solano’s No Limit Hoops, an after school basketball program.
Solano has been caring for and guiding youth in Maryvale for the last two years through his after school program. He says he understands it isn’t safe to gather at the gym for now, but it concerns him when he can’t even connect with the students online, because the internet is just not affordable for many.
“I don’t know what the students are doing, are they going to the schools giving out food?” said Solano.
Solano’s students live in Maryvale, a part of the Valley while rich in culture and diversity, also has some of the highest rates of violent crime. Now the area is dealing with school closures.
“I’m trying to help these guys get to college because if they do that they’ll have a better chance to make money and have a stable life,” added Solano who fears no communication with the students will leave them at risk of violence and hunger.
“I gave one kid the other day a 24-pack of water. He said, ‘coach I need water’ I worry about them.”
“Many kids don’t have internet and the two free weeks some providers offer aren’t enough,” said Rosa Pastrana, a long time Maryvale resident and leader of a neighborhood Block Watch.
Pastrana says many families simply can’t afford the internet or a computer because they either lost their job or are facing evictions and calls on legislators to do something.
“They have yet to visit our neighborhoods, they need to visit and not only when they need our votes,” said Pastrana.
Arizona State Representative, Cesar Chavez, oversees the district where Maryvale is located. Chavez says, he believes that although the Arizona State Legislature has acted to work for the people, there’s more to do.
“What we did before we recess was appropriate over $50 million dollars to cover expenses for some of our organizations that have a huge footprint, especially in my district. To provide food at food banks, to provide services for children like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club,” said Chavez who added people can always reach out by calling his office to ensure they can assist as many people as possible.
For Solano, he says he just wants what’s best for his kids with hopes people look at Maryvale, and see what he sees: potential.
For more stories about the impact of COVID19 in underrepresented communities, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.