Buffalo Public Schools aim to limit the mental and academic toll of remote learning

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BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo Public School District wants to limit the toll that distance learning can have on a student’s academic performance and mental health.

“If they can see your face or hear your voice I think it makes a world of difference for our students and anybody,” said BPS 37 school counselor Mark Stradley. ” We’re all going through this and that’s one thing I always like to tell students too. It’s ok to not be ok.”

Each week Stradley reaches out to students in hat the district calls, “Check and Connect.”

“We usually do it once or twice a week,” he said. “Just to check in and make sure they’re doing ok. Socially, emotionally, and academically and if they need anything from us, that’s a great time to connect with them and see what resources they need on our end.”

Each school has its own student support services team that works with remote students who might be struggling.

“We’re able to make sure we’re stabilizing our social and emotional needs, also being aware of the needs of the parents that are thrust into becoming teachers and counselors all at the same time so just making sure we’re supporting the family as a whole as much as possible,” said supervisor for the division of student support services Aundrea Sanders.

To make sure students stay on track with their school work, the district is teaming up with the University at Buffalo to offer tutoring help for students grades 9 through 12.

“That’s huge. That’s great for our kids to try and get up to speed where they might be behind where they are right now in school and get them ready for if there’s regents exams in their classes,” Stradley said. “So I think the district is trying to put as many resources and as many partnerships as possible to help out at this time.”

School officials say the district is looking into a phased in plan that would prioritize students who really need that in-person learning.

“It would prioritize those students with disabilities, severe disabilities, as well as our English language learners as well as our youngest learners,” said school board member Larry Scott.

“It is in the best interest of all of us as a community to try to prioritize those students who need to be back into the classroom most significantly,” said Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization member Rachel Dominguez.

No timeline on in-person learning has been made yet.

Any parent or student needing extra assistance can reach out to the school district here.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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