Navajo Nation’s kids try to adjust as pandemic forces schools to close


Navajo Nation is in lockdown, trying to curb the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. That means kids won’t be back in a classroom anytime soon.

“I did really good, but this year, not so good because it’s like really hard,” said Cuba High School sophomore Autumn Wilson. 

For Wilson, the anguish of the pandemic was stacked on grief. “Not too long ago, a year ago, we lost our dad, and it was really hard for four of us,” she said.

Her dad died of complications from alcoholism, a different pandemic long plaguing the nation. 

“And getting my work done is really hard for me because I usually think about my dad and I get depressed sometimes,” Wilson said. 

Her mom keeps her focused.

“I just write a little note telling them do your work. Stay off your phone, no tv, no cellphone. Do your work,” said her mother, Shannon Wilson. 

But virtual learning here is already hard in places that lack basic resources — even electricity — that power the internet.

“I don’t like online, I like to be, you know, in school, learning,” said Cyliss Castillo, a senior at Cuba High School. 

Like Wilson, Castillo isn’t going to school, but the Cuba High School bus still comes by their home.

“Pretty much anything we can send a student, they get on the bus. school supplies, school work, food, clothes,” said Cuba High School administrative assistant Veronica Madrid. 

From food to flash drive bracelets, the bus brings school to the students.

“They downloaded the assignments onto the hard drive right here,” Castillo said. “I just go through and I choose my teachers and my classes and whatever assignments that they have.”

What the bus can’t deliver down the dusty desert roads is friends. 

In the meantime, that too can be sorted.  

“When they’re done with their work and stuff, if they want to go out and clear their heads, you know, stay focused on work, they go out and ride horses,” said Castillo’s father, Anderson Castillo, who is a horse breeder. 

No social distancing required. 

“Hopefully by next semester we’ll be going back into school,” Castillo said. 

Only time will tell.



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