SAN ANTONIO – Many of the families within the Edgewood Independent School District who worked in the hospitality industry exemplify the job losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re having to be extremely creative with how we address the needs of our total community,” said Dr. Eduardo Hernandez, EISD superintendent for the last three years.
Although Hernandez considers the digital divide this generation’s civil rights issue, he said without the basic necessities and the emotional support families need, students will be unable to focus on learning from home.
“Then that stress level comes to the family. So, then the family has to struggle with that,” Hernandez said.
For instance, he said the district’s police department also focuses on community policing.
“We’re not just about security. We’re here to help the community,” Maria Yanez, an Edgewood parent, recalls when she was told by a police officer who showed up at her home with Thanksgiving dinner for her and her son.
“They’ve never turned their backs on us,” Yanez said.
Hernandez said the district is doing what it can, such as offering counseling and caseworkers.
To help fill immediate needs for families, EISD has a clothes closet with donated clothing and a food pantry with weekly food distribution events through a partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank.
“Last Wednesday, we had 2,000 families lined up,” Hernandez said.
The most recent distance learning studies by the UTSA Urban Education Institute showed although 45% of Edgewood’s students surveyed last spring said it challenged them to do their best work and 49% reported often there was no money to buy food.
Hernandez said the district also is looking at possible evening classes for students who now have to work part-time because both parents are now unemployed.
As a result, Hernandez said often what they earn is the only paycheck in the family.
WATCH: Hernandez’s message to Edgewood ISD students and parents