Zooming In

A Boston Family’s Back-to-School Journey Amid COVID-19

Leiya Silveira

13, Hyde Park

Leiya is a seventh grader at the Eliot School in Boston, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, she has been learning remotely through Zoom.

Leiya has dyslexia and ADHD, which require special programs and extra assistance with learning.

Fabienne Eliacin

Hyde Park

Fabienne is a board member of CPLAN, a parent-led volunteer non-profit organization aimed at improving education policy in Boston.

When schools closed due to the pandemic, CPLAN launched a learning pod at the Lena Park Community Center, where a small group of students can learn together with the support of volunteers.

Boston Public Schools started the academic year remotely, but on Oct. 1 offered an in-person learning option to high-needs students. Some parents, including Fabienne, chose for their children to continue remote learning.

On Oct. 15, Boston City Hall and the Zakim Bridge were illuminated in red to raise awareness about dyslexia.

Leiya continues to take dance classes over Zoom, but Fabienne says she misses the social interaction of in-person classes and playing team sports.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, Fabienne tested positive for the coronavirus, adding another layer of stress and uncertainty.

Fabienne’s doctor told her to go to the hospital because she had trouble breathing, but with COVID cases rising and long waits at the E.R., she decided to care for herself at home.

Fabienne speaks while quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19.

[You were doing remote learning for four months. What was that like?]

Although dance is one of Leiya’s favorite activities, she is starting to lose interest because it’s on Zoom and asked her mom to take a break

As Fabienne looks for in-person opportunities that will be more fulfilling for Leiya, she does not expect her daughter to return to in-person school anytime soon, even with the arrival of vaccines.

Asked what she is most hopeful for in 2021, Leiya says she hopes her mom will let her get a pet duck -- after both of her pet geckos died.