MAGIC VALLEY — The Hispanic and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected throughout the pandemic, not only with the number of COVID-19 cases but also with receiving the information they need. The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs says they faced challenges when reaching out to Hispanic and Latino families. Still, they were able to utilize radio stations to reach as many families as possible.
"There are radio stations throughout the state that are bilingual to reach these communities. When this pandemic first hit, one of the first things we did, is to put health experts on the radio to start answering questions and provide information to our Spanish families," Margie Gonzalez, Executive Director of The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, said.
One prominent problem faced throughout the pandemic was the language barrier. Even if Hispanic and Latino families received the information they needed, there was a high chance of them not comprehending what was said.
"The communication between educators and families is critical. If you send the family an email describing what this year's plan is going to be, how sure are we that number one they are receiving the email and two that they can comprehend," Gonzalez said.
With no Spanish speaking T.V. news stations in Idaho, Margie says a majority of Hispanic and Latino families have had to rely on Spanish radio stations to receive the information they need in the language they understand.
"It's the same with the reopening of schools. We need to utilize these radio stations to get this information out to families. Because I don't want to see a family not send their children to school because they're so panicked and can't help them at home either," Gonzalez said.
Margie says The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs has worked with radio stations state-wide throughout the pandemic to make sure they reach as many families as possible. Recently they hosted a town hall meeting with the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Education News to answer questions in Spanish for parents regarding how to send their kids back to school safely.