Twenty parents in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District were given AT&T tablets on Friday in an effort to enhance their digital literacy as they navigate distance learning with their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablets were donated to Mixteco families by the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), which works to empower parents in underserved communities by fostering educational engagement and parent-school collaboration.
PIQUE was able to distribute the tablets at a ceremony outside Fairlawn Elementary School thanks to a $100,000 grant from AT&T through its Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund, said Sonia de Leon, deputy director of PIQE's Bakersfield office.
Families who received the tablets were incredibly happy to have an additional technology resource, as well as ongoing technology support from the school district, De Leon said.
"Parents were asking if there were opportunities to learn how to use technology. They want to learn. What parents said was, 'We want to know how to help our students [more],'" De Leon said. "They don't see [the tablets] as gifts; they see them as tools they can use to help their children."
Five of the recipients were parent graduates of PIQE's engagement programs, and 15 were members of the Mixteco community who were in contact with PIQE during the pandemic, according to the district.
The tablets are intended to be used by parents or caregivers to access online resources from the district and other tools such as videos in Mixteco, De Leon said.
"Helping parents with connectivity in this moment is a very important opportunity," she said. "Parents can now understand what's going in their children's classes and better supervise them … and be less intimidated by the technology."
A big part of PIQE's work is partnering with school districts like Santa Maria-Bonita in areas with prominent Mixteco populations to provide digital learning opportunities, PIQE Policy Director Patty Chavez said. These efforts have been especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A lot of parents, their kids are doing distance learning and they're coming home with Chromebooks and a tablet and their parents don’t know how to help them," Chavez said. "They’re asked to be teacher’s assistants, so to speak."
PIQE was given 300 total tablets by AT&T to distribute statewide to families facing economic and digital barriers. Ten families in the Santa Maria Joint-Union High School District also were recipients, De Leon said.
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