Part 3: Zooming Into a Boston Family's Back-to-School COVID-19 Journey

Meet Fabienne Eliacin and Leiya Silveira, a mother-daughter duo from Hyde Park navigating remote learning through the coronavirus pandemic. Unmute below and click through the slides to hear their story, as we follow them through an unprecedented school year. Part 2 brought us Fabienne’s heartfelt account of the tribulations of the pandemic, while Leiya experimented with cooking and enjoyed Halloween. In Part 3, the final installment, Fabienne tests positive for COVID-19 while Leiya feels “Zoomed out.” The combination of the two developments is challenging for Fabienne, who tries to keep her daughter engaged with school.

On March 13, Mayor Marty Walsh announced Boston's public schools would shut their doors due to the surging coronavirus pandemic. At the time, Fabienne Eliacin was balancing a full-time job and making sure her 13-year-old daughter, Leiya Silveira, was participating in remote learning at Boston's Eliot School. "How am I going to be able to do it?" she asked herself.

Six months later, Boston Public Schools began the new academic year under a phased-in approach that allowed the district's highest-need students back in the classroom in October. That plan was paused in November amid an uptick in cases across the city, forcing those students back to remote learning indefinitely. Regardless, Eliacin said she has opted for her daughter to learn remotely for at least the remainder of 2020, fearing Leiya could be exposed to the virus while riding the bus and pass it to family members with preexisting conditions.

But Zoom classes have presented learning challenges for Leiya, who has been diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression and a pragmatic communications disorder -- all which require extra resources and attention.

Eliacin focuses much of her time advocating to get better resources for Leiya. She is a part of three parent-led local activist organizations: Decoding Dyslexia, a group seeking to expand "research based interventions" for dyslexia; the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network, a volunteer group that addresses educational inequities; and Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council, where she serves as a board member to advocate for families with special needs children.

Before schools resumed in September, CPLAN launched a learning pod -- a small group of students learning remotely together -- at Lena Park Community Center in Dorchester for some 20 girls from the second to eighth grades who need extra support. Eliacin is a "pod assistant," helping students with work and assisting with programs. The role allows her to help Leiya as she starts the seventh grade and make sure she gets to her (now virtual) dance classes on time.

Eliacin and Leiya's story is just one example of a family navigating school and life amid the pandemic. We invite you to follow their journey.

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