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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Homework help: San Diego libraries offering free virtual tutoring

While some physical libraries are closed inside, that doesn't mean the library has stopped serving students in creative ways.

SAN DIEGO — Virtual learning has been tough on families all across San Diego County for a variety of reasons, especially for working families or families with limited resources. However, the City of San Diego's library staff is trying to make the process easier by providing online tutoring services for free through a program called “Do Your Homework at the Library Virtual Homework Help.”

Alicia Alvarez's son, Josiah, has always struggled with math. So, when she learned he could get tutoring help for free, she jumped at the chance not only for him, but also herself.

“I've been able to work from home and my job is very demanding so I can’t stop work to help him with his homework," said Alvarez. "It's helped him out so much."

Just a couple weeks in, and Josiah's D grade has improved to a B+ thanks to tutors working out of five of San Diego's 36 libraries.

Offering both morning and afternoon sessions, the “Do Your Homework at the Library Virtual Homework Help” is designed to assist students K- 8 with a variety of subjects ranging from math to English to science. Help for Spanish speakers is offered as well.

Manager Brenda Monzon said, "They usually have an education background. Many of them are substitute teachers, former teachers or even current teachers."

Monzon told News 8 that before the pandemic, the program, which began in 2015, tutored kids in person. Last school year, nearly 40,000 students sought help. After shutting down operations, staff recently pivoted to a digital model following requests from struggling families.

"When we did close down for the pandemic, we were still getting a lot of requests from parents because they were having a lot of trouble helping the kids especially because it was remotely," said Monzon.

To sign up, register your child using their name, grade, subject they need help in, and session preference. A Zoom link is then sent, giving the student access at any point during that three-hour session.

It’s a simple process that Alvarez said has made a world of difference.

"With me being a single mom and 100% of the financial responsibility falling on me, I can’t afford to pay $200 to $300 for a tutoring," said Alvarez. "It's amazing. It's like a God sent blessing.”

While the program is designed for younger students, program officials said no one gets turned away.