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This watercolor was created with coffee grounds and chili powder. Painting: Sofia Rodriguez, 16, courtesy of Cristina Correa

Students on both sides of the border that attend the IDEA San Juan College Prep school in Texas are completing art assignments remotely using materials found at home.

Why it matters: Teachers around the country are struggling to provide their students with continuity — not just in academics, but also in designating time and resources for self-expression — and art teacher Cristina Correa found resourceful solutions.

What's happening: When the school dismissed students for extended leave due to the coronavirus, many weren't able to come by the art department for supplies, even students working on AP portfolio submissions.

  • Correa designed a series of prompts that encouraged students to improvise art supplies from common materials and objects they could find at home.
  • "The idea for using Hot Cheetos was based off of a running joke. The kids would sneak in Hot Cheetos and get fingerprints on their work," Correa says.

Context: Correa, who has taught art at IDEA San Juan for more than ten years, tells Axios some students commute from Mexico, and that as a student body, "we are 96% economically disadvantaged. Some of our students come from far below the poverty line."

The bottom line: "Having a creative outlet, having that kind of escape is important for kids," says Correa, who noted that many of her students work to help support their families, and may be facing additional financial pressure during the pandemic.

  • "This gives students a different way to problem solve, to share themselves, and to find something they’re really good at."

All images courtesy of Cristina Correa:

Left: Anette Rodriguez, 17. Right: Vanessa Cardenas, 17
Left: Ihtziri Salas, 17. Right: Andrea Arroyo, 17
Left: Anette Rodriguez, 17. Right: Samira Marquez, 16.

Go deeper

America's education workforce needs students at school

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An entire sector of America's education workforce faces paycheck jeopardy in the coming weeks that moving to remote teaching can't easily fix.

Why it matters: Half of America’s education workforce isn't teachers, and they support students and school districts in many ways educators cannot — like counseling, feeding students, transportation and mental health.

Exclusive: GOP Leader McCarthy asks to meet with Biden about the border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at CPAC. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has requested a meeting with President Biden to discuss the rising numbers of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, in a letter sent on Friday.

Why it matters: Biden is facing criticism from the right and the left as agency actions and media reports reveal spiking numbers of migrant children overwhelming parts of the U.S. immigration system. Recent data shows an average of 321 kids being referred to migrant shelters each day, as Axios reported.

Vaccine hesitancy drops, but with partisan divide

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

69% of the public intends to get a COVID vaccine or already has, up significantly from 60% in November, according to a report out Friday from the Pew Research Center.

Yes, but: The issue has become even more partisan, with 56% of Republicans who say they want or have already received a coronavirus vaccine compared to 83% of Democrats.