Computer issues.

Work issues.

And even some nonissues.

But adjusting to a new world – and a new type of school setting – has proven to be challenging for some parents in the Taos Municipal School District, especially those of younger students.

Monica Coca, mother of two students at Enos Garcia Elementary School, said that the start of the new school year has proven difficult.

In fact, Coca – who is already balancing her work schedule and helping her kids learn at home – was unable to log them them into their classes the first few days due to password problems.

On the first day of classes – which was on Aug. 13 – Coca said that she had problems trying to log her kids in, Citlallin Coca-Rodriguez, a fifth-grader, and Amari Abeyta, a kindergartner.

"I kept getting error messages and I couldn't log my kids in," Coca said.

Alisha Soust, mother of Lexxi Padilla, a kindergartner at Arroyos del Norte Elementary School, said her daughter wasn't able to start school until last Friday (Aug. 21) even though she was supposed to start on Aug. 13.

The reason Soust said that her daughter hasn't been able to log on was because there weren't enough devices for students, so she had to wait until one was issued.

However for Marissa Montoya, whose daughter Mikaela Trujillo is in first grade at Enos Garcia, school so far has been smooth.

"She got the tablet, she got the hot spot," Montoya said of her daughter, who had just recently been tested for autism.

Communicating with teachers

Parents said that communication with teachers has been great and not so great at the same time. Many acknowledged that teaching online is an already complicated – and tough – situation for instructors.

Coca said she's happy that the school has provided computers and said she understands the problems aren't entirely "their fault" but said that communication between her and her kids' teachers has been mixed.

While she heard from her kindergartner's teacher, it was just one time – right before the first day of school. However, with her fifth-grade child, Coca said that the teacher has been texting her frequently and checking up.

But even though one of her child's teachers texts often, it doesn't give the working Coca plenty of time to help her kids prepare.

"Even though she texts often, I get the message right before a Canvas meeting," she said. "She just texts and says, 'Canvas meeting now.' And I'm like, well, I'm at work.'"

Coca added she still understands: "They are doing the best they can do."

Julianne Lucero said so far teachers have been helpful in keeping her two kids up to date – Diego Cisneros, a fourth-grader, and Elizabeth Cisneros, who is in second grade. In fact, one of her kids' teachers purchased supplies for them.

"This last week the teachers went and kindly got my students some supplies like a couple notebooks and pencils," Lucero said. "You know, they didn't even have to do that. So that was awesome."

Montoya said she's been in touch with her daughter's teacher every day since the start of the school year. But her daughter still thinks that her kindergarten teacher is her instructor – and her mom, too.

"She still thinks her kindergarten teacher is her teacher right now," Montoya said. "She doesn't know who her teacher is. Right now she also thinks I'm her teacher, so she calls me 'teacher-mommie.'"

Besides normal schooling, though, Montoya has been getting therapy for her daughter when it comes to learning outside of the school - including teaching Mikaela numbers, the alphabet and also signing her up for a book club in which she reads to her.

"She's learning some stuff on her own without being online," Montoya said.

Working and teaching

Lucero is a working mom, too, though she is lucky in that her schedule fits well with making sure she can be there for her kids and their online classes.

She works the weekends, she said, as well as on Monday and Friday as an assistant manager at a hotel here in Taos.

"I'm kind of in a good position to still, you know, be by my kids' side throughout all of this, which I know is not the case for some people, unfortunately," Lucero said.

However, Coca said she needs to work to sustain a source of income for her and her family, so it sometimes interferes with helping her kids.

Coca said that the grandparents of her children watch them during the week. And she doesn't want to add stress to the grandparents by having them work with her kids on classes in an already complicated situation.

"I'm lucky enough to have them watching my kids for me. So I don't want to load school on top of them," Coca said.

Getting online

Nearly two weeks after the first day of school has been in session, Coca's kids have finally received login information and had the help of their dad in getting to their classes.

Lucero, whose kids attend Ranchos Elementary School, said that the start of the new school year has been mostly smooth – and she added that having somewhat of a head start on remote learning toward the tail end of last school year has helped.

"It's actually been a little bit smoother this new year knowing we did it last year like this," Lucero said. "So we got a little intro and, you know, it's just getting it all going, submitting and just complying with everything [the teachers] are requesting."

It also helped, Lucero said, that the district provided hot spots and computer devices for her kids to use – because that is something they didn't have.

"This [hot spot] was good because I didn't have internet at home," Lucero said.

Soust's daughter has been excited for the new school year – and for a new journey.

"She's very excited," Soust said. "But she is upset that there is no going to class and seeing who is there, and making new friends. But so far, she's adjusting really well."

On Monday and Thursday mornings, her daughter will log into Canvas for a video meeting, Soust said, while Seesaw – an online learning platform – is where she gets basic classwork done.

But Soust said she is sending her daughter, a kindergartner, to a day care – Inspire, a bilingual early learning center in Taos – so that she can get her classwork done there while Soust works. She's been going there for years, Soust said.

"The thing about it is that she has been enrolled in Inspire," Soust said. "And so Inspire really went out of their way and they got another building for kindergarten students. Then they are going to put them over there and it's going to be like their own class."

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