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Buffalo school officials update parents on distance learning, future assessments

Buffalo Public Schools
Buffalo Public Schools use Schoology for distance learning.

The Buffalo Public Schools district is continuing to deal with coronavirus on the fly, as things keep changing. The uncertainties are making it hard for officials to plan the future.

On a live update Thursday evening, Chief Academic Officer Anne Botticelli and Chief Accountability Officer Genelle Morris talked to a BPS Parent Center session about classes at home, the new rules for how students can be promoted from year to year, and how to move toward graduation. It is also hard to plan for things as basic as summer school, because it is not clear if Albany will allow it.

Botticelli saids schools and the system are trying to make sure students are there doing their class work at home.

"We do monitor student logins, so that's one good way for us to tell who has been checking into Schoology and who we might need to reach out to," she said. "Students can submit their work in various ways. They may need to email an assignment to a teacher. They may want to take a picture and send it to the teacher to show that they have completed the assignment."

Botticelli said the system will probably send out another round of paper academic work soon, so that every student has material in the hands and not necessarily on a computer screen. She admitted it might take a couple of years for kids to catch up academically, starting with planned testing in the fall.

"We plan to administer various tests that will gauge a student's current level of understanding of the subject matter," Botticelli said. "We will have already begun to adjust our curriculum, the spiral and skills that the student might need supporting, but diagnostics should give us an even deeper understanding of the needs of particular students.

Morris said there are a series of new state rules controlling how students meet requirements for achievements, like passing Regents exams and getting a district diploma for Special Education students. She said schools across the state are learning all of the changes forced by schools being virtual.
"Any pathway that has a requirement that a student is missing out on, right now, will be waived because of the closure," Morris said. "So, for example, students who were required to take community service and do community service hours for participation in government courses, that is waived."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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