Latino community leaders are urging the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board to hire additional bilingual interpreters as the district finalizes budget plans.

In an online press conference organized by the Forsyth County Latino Congress Tuesday, parents and advocates said the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need. 

They said the language barrier has prevented some students from accessing online learning tools and parents from communicating with teachers. 

Reverend Sonia Baca-Zuniga, pastor at Marvin United Methodist Church, says many families have been seeking support from their churches rather than schools, as the district has only one bilingual counselor.

"We are seeing an alarming number of children of color who would benefit from being able to speak to a bilingual counselor, especially during this time," she says. 

Baca-Zuniga says members of her congregation have had a difficult time navigating disruptions caused by the pandemic. 

As of this week, the Latino community accounted for 57 percent of the county's COVID-19 cases, despite representing just 13 percent of the total population.

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.

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