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Remote Learning A Struggle For Many NYC School Kids, But It's Even More Problematic For Homeless Students

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As in-person classes get pushed back, it's putting pressure on those struggling to adjust to remote learning.

For the thousands of children living in homeless shelters, internet service is unreliable and child care is often nonexistent.

On Thursday, CBS2's Ali Bauman talked to students and parents in that very predicament.

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At 16 years old, LJ is a high school senior on the honor roll who one day hopes to be a marine biologist.

"I would hate for my GPA not to reflect my potential because of a situation like this," LJ said.

LJ lives in a homeless shelter in one room with her mom and two brothers.

"I'm the only one with a tablet, so they have to use mine and I'm doing remote learning, too," she said.

When asked how that works with his brother also needing to use the tablet, LJ said, "He's trying to use his phone and that's kind of working a little bit, but the connection is bad."

Schools: The New Normal

Even though the Department of Education has given out more than 15,000 internet-enabled iPads to students in shelters, the hotspots rely on cell service that can be nonexistent in many shelters. It was so bad Thursday, LJ couldn't log on to a single class.

"I'm not gonna be able to get the fundamentals and the basics of my classes if it doesn't start working," LJ said.

Ten percent of the city's public school students are homeless and there are 21,000 children sleeping in shelters across the five boroughs.

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Christine Quinn is president of Women in Need, which runs the shelter LJ lives in.

"I don't know why the city didn't more aggressively spend the summer working with homeless providers and others to come up with a plan or plans that would really include the reality of homeless families," Quinn said.

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Bauman asked Quinn if she's worried this school year in particular is going to make it harder for students and families to get out of the shelter system.

"The best factor that can occur for you to get out of shelter and stay out of shelter is a job," Quinn said.

That's something mother Crystal Berroa is struggling with firsthand.

"I don't think I'd be able to work if it wasn't for my mom's help because there is no child care," Berroa said.

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Berroa lives in a shelter with her three young kids. While she's at work, her mother helps with remote learning.

"But then it's the thing of teaching my mom how to log in my daughter. They need to be in school because that's their attendance and if they don't I'm gonna have Child Protective Services calling me," Berroa said.

When asked if she feels like the city has left her out to fend for herself, LJ said, "We're just not listened to or we have nobody to listen to us."

The DOE said students can still request tablets, telling CBS2 in a statement, "Instructional orientation this week exists ... to troubleshoot any device or connectivity issues."

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