Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our social sphere. From work to social gatherings, everyone has drastically changed their routine. Education is not different in that regard. Many public schools were forced to grapple with COVID-19 and shift to virtual classes in March of 2020. Underserved communities in North Carolina undoubtedly face exacerbated inequalities due to COVID-19 and English Language Learners (ELLs) are no exception to that. North Carolina becomes a unique space for investigation as previous research would describe it as a "new destination" state for immigrants. I will be specifically examining ESL teachers and their roles as interpreters (figuratively and literally) between North Carolina public education and their immigrant Latino students (and their families). My research questions are (1) how is COVID-19 affecting opportunities of learning among ESL students, and (2) how are ESL teachers seeking to respond to COVID-19 effects on their students? I will be collecting my data by conducting qualitative interviews of ESL and classroom teachers in a rural North Carolina school district. These interviews illuminate that the technological divide has negatively impacted ESL students' ability to both physically and mentally log into school. In response, ESL teachers become the literal and figurative interpreters to help their students survive virtual school. As the racial and ethnic demographic of Unites States continues to shift, the U.S. education system must be able to adapt and evolve with its community in order to meet the needs of its students.