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San Diego Teachers Spend Spring Break With Migrant Teens — And Some Parents Aren't Happy About It

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San Diego Teachers Use Their Spring Break To Educate Migrant Teens

While some might spend their spring break seeking rest and relaxation, teachers from the San Diego Unified School District took it upon themselves to use their time off to keep educating.

Specifically, these devoted educators volunteered their time to teach the hundreds of migrant teen girls now housed in the San Diego Convention Center, which is currently being used as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied minors.

As of now, the convention center is housing 723 girls, and the US Department of Health and Human Services anticipates 250 more teenagers each day until it reaches the facility's capacity of 1,450.

"Our teachers have volunteered to help — we are not paying them in any way — because caring for children is central to who they are as human beings," SDUSD spokesperson Maureen Magee told reporters.

"The power of their example should inspire us all," she continued, "and hopefully many others will be inspired to show these girls that we are a compassionate community."

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The girls are all tested for Covid-19 upon arrival at the convention center, and every three days after that. Anyone who tests positive is moved to another facility. So far there have been 69 positive cases.

The teens are expected to stay at the facility for a month while their identities are confirmed and they can be put into the custody of a family member or sponsor, at which point a judge decides if they can stay in the US under asylum or if they will be sent back to their home countries.

While this news has been met with a great deal of positivity, it has also ignited some controversy.

Some who are opposed to California's policy of children continuing to take part in virtual learning rather than learning in school argue that this in-person education for migrant children is unfair, as their own children do not have the same opportunity.

The irony that migrant children being housed in a shelter might receive a few weeks of in-person learning and are therefore seen as privileged by parents who don't have to worry about their own children being deported or housed in cramped facilities similar to those where abuse was alleged to be rampant appears to be lost on these individuals.

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Kathie Lembo, president and CEO of the South Bay Community Services (SBCS) responded to those who take issue with the volunteer efforts of these teachers.

“The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is operating this program in order to address the needs of the vulnerable children being housed at the site," she said. "All children in California, regardless of immigration status, have a constitutional right to education.”

Lembo clarified that these children will not be getting the same spectrum of education that the American public school system offers to its students, but rather lessons in English language development, social-emotional learning, and the arts.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said of the migrant teens, “There are parents making impossible choices, choices that you and I can't possibly imagine choosing to send a child into, but they're making those choices."

"All that we're saying is," he continued, "that to the extent that that happens, that we are doing our part as human beings to make sure that those children as safe as possible.”

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Leeann Reed is a writer who covers news, pop culture, and love, and relationship topics.