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Public libraries offer students free online tutoring in math and other subjects

Sue Thompson

Students who need help with their homework have options for free online tutoring through public libraries, including a new service from Seattle Public Library.

Back before the coronavirus, students who needed homework help could find it in person at 11 branches of Seattle Public Library. Branches are closed right now, but any student with a library card or a Seattle Public Schools identification number can use a free online tutoring service called

Josie Watanabe, student success program manager for the library, said it’s available every afternoon and evening in multiple languages. She said the library is particularly aiming to connect Black, Indigenous and Latino students with the service.

“Right now it’s available from 2 to 10 (p.m.) in Spanish and English, and it’s also available from 4 to 7 (p.m.) in Vietnamese,” she said. “You can just log on and instantaneously connect to a tutor and the wait time is under a minute.”

Students can get help with math, science, world languages and other subjects, plus help with college essay writing. Watanabe said she expects math to be a commonly requested subject, given that students frequently requested help with math when the library offered in-person tutoring.

“So if you have a student who’s really struggling with fractions or decimals and really needs that specific skill, as a parent I can say, 'OK, this is really hard, I’m having a hard time explaining this to you, so let me connect you to this service and a trained tutor can help you,’” she said.

Watanabe said the library selected in part because it chooses its tutors carefully and does background checks.

The King County Library System also is offering the service. The Tacoma Public Library offers similar homework assistance through something called HelpNow.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.