In our English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and Community Literacy classes, students gain the skills they need to thrive in the classroom, in the workplace and in the community. These classes also help prepare our participants for naturalization exams and interviews on their paths to U.S. citizenship.

Even though Erie House is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the people we serve’s journeys are not on pause. That’s why we’ve continued to provide online classes and tutoring for our students.

Online classes and one-on-one tutoring for learners

For our ESL courses, teachers are using Zoom and Google Classroom to reach out to students and holding at least on hour of class online every day.

In Zoom video classes, students receive grammar lessons and conversation activities and have the opportunity to converse in English. And through Google Classroom, students receive listening, reading, and writing activities that they can work on in their own free time.

We’re currently holding online classes and activities for about 100 students — half of our usual class roster. Jose Luis Mosqueda, one of our instructors, is personally reaching out to all the students who said they were interested in online classes but haven’t yet connected. He troubleshoots with each student to help them find ways to get online.

While some of our participants have lost work due to the pandemic, many others in Little Village have had their work pick up dramatically, which has prevented them from being able to join regular online classes. Many are working in factories to produce protective gear, doing additional deep cleaning in supermarkets during off hours, or delivering food for restaurants. Others are not able to join during the day because their children need to use their smartphone for school.

So, Jose Luis is reaching out to each student to let them know that even if they can’t join the scheduled Zoom lesson, they can still connect to Google Classroom to do activities when they have available time and access to technology.

“I’m really inspired by our teachers, even when we weren’t yet mandated to be offering online classes, they were still reaching out to students on WhatsApp and Facebook and making sure they were still learning as much as possible.”

Rachel Serra, Literacy Programs Manager

And folks who are interested in one-on-one Community Literacy tutoring can sign up online to get connected with a volunteer tutor who will help them learn to speak English with strength and confidence and open more opportunities.

Checking in with access to resources

In order to help our participants meet more of their immediate, basic needs, we created a Community Relief Fund. All donations to this fund go directly to our participants, including those who are undocumented and have limited access to public benefits. If you’re interested in directly supporting or participants during this time to help them cover costs like rent, utilities, groceries, and more, you can visit eriehouse.org/CRF.

“People are grateful someone is checking in on them because they feel vulnerable and isolated. It’s helpful for all of us to know that someone cares and is checking in. We’re building networks so they know if something happens, they have someone to reach out to.”

Rachel Serra

Keep following our blog or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to stay in the know about how the Erie House team is going above and beyond to support our community during the COVID-19 crisis.

You can also learn more about our response to the coronavirus pandemic and access additional resources at eriehouse.org/covid19.