Teachers in San Diego are going to the city’s convention center soon to instruct immigrant children in-person, even as schools in the county largely remain online-only.
About 13 teachers have volunteered to work with the minor immigrants, Roberto Carrillo, a principal at the San Diego County Office of Education, told KPBS.
“We definitely want to introduce them to the arts, the visual arts, and the performing arts,” he said.
“We’ll give them the opportunity to start expressing themselves through written formats, giving them a basic understanding of the English language.”
Instruction was slated to start as soon as Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the office confirmed to The Epoch Times that it “is providing an educational program for children who are being housed at the San Diego Convention Center.”
Supervisor Jim Desmond said that it was great for immigrants to receive in-person teaching.
“130,000 kids haven’t been allowed in a classroom for over a year in the S.D. Unified School District. It’s great there’s in-person learning for those unaccompanied minors, but I wish every child in S.D. was allowed the same opportunity for in-person teaching,” he wrote in a tweet.
A spokesperson for the San Diego Unified School District told Fox News that the district shared with its teachers details on how they could volunteer to reach the immigrant children during their spring break, which started on Monday. She said she didn’t know if the teachers were being paid.
The district did not answer a query about the matter from The Epoch Times.
San Diego officials, including its superintendent, issued statements late last week urging students, parents, and others to avoid large gatherings as part of an effort to “stop the surge” of COVID-19 over spring break.
(L-R) San Diego congressmen Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Vice Chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nora Vargas, and Congresswoman Sara Jacobs at the San Diego Convention Center on March 27, 2021. (Jane Yang/Epoch Times)
“We want to speak directly to our students today because they have demonstrated incredible courage and resilience through this pandemic. This is not the time to let our guard down. Have fun, get lots of rest and make sure you stay healthy for when school reopens online on April 5 and for in-person learning on April 12,” Cindy Marten, the superintendent, said in a statement.
According to statistics from the county, some 40,000 students are learning full-time on-campus, nearly 130,000 are engaged in hybrid learning, or a mix of in-person and remote, and another 317,855 are learning online-only.
Federal officials reached a deal to convert the San Diego Convention Center into an emergency immigration shelter earlier this month. The facility has an initial capacity of 1,400.
Unaccompanied minors are loaded into a U.S. Border Patrol transport van after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, in Hildalgo, Texas, on March 25, 2021. (John Moore/Getty Images)
The population being housed there are immigrant girls between the ages of 13 and 17.
President Joe Biden’s administration reversed the Trump-era policy of expelling unaccompanied minors back to their home countries. Instead, officials are working on quickly giving the minors to family or friends in the United States.
The number of illegal border crossings rose sharply during Biden’s first month in office, including a rise in unaccompanied children from 5,694 to 9,297.
Because of the increase in unaccompanied minors and families reaching the border, coupled with the policy reversals, Customs and Border Protection are holding some minors over the 72-hour mandated limit. The agency is supposed to quickly transfer the children to the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs facilities like the convention center.
A senior Border Patrol official told reporters in a call last week that he expects there will be a continued rise in apprehensions over the coming months, as the weather gets nicer.
On one recent day, 6,000 immigrants were apprehended. In the last 30 days, agents averaged about 5,000 encounters a day, with approximately a quarter of those being unaccompanied minors.