Impact of remote learning

"He failed three classes last quarter"
Posted at 6:16 PM, Feb 26, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The impact of remote learning has been tough for student learning, leaving some falling behind.

Christa Boquard, parent, in Zoom interview.

“He really just needs that in-person learning to succeed,” remarked Christa Boquard, parent.

Boquard says her 12-year-old Brendan is a 7th grader at Orchard Park Middle School.

The district has a mix of in-person and at home learning.

Boquard's mom, Christa, says on the days he is home for asynchronous learning, everything falls apart.

Brendan Boquard, 12, 7th grader.

“A lot of the times thinks he's doing these on-line assignments and then he comes to find that either he didn't turn it in in the right area or it wasn't counted or maybe he really didn't just do it at all,” Boquard explained.

Brendan has ADHD and is provided with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Brendan and Christa Boquard.

Boquard said without five-day a week in school learning, the IEP does not work.

“Come to find out — he failed three classes last quarter,” Boquard noted.

“A lot of our special ed kids, particularly those with attention deficit and those with autism, really need that social construction of learning and they haven't had it,” explained Dr. Wendy Paterson, dean, School of Education, SUNY Buffalo State.

Paterson said it's up to educators to figure out what areas students are falling behind.

Dr. Wendy Paterson, dean, School of Education at SUNY Buffalo State, in a Zoom interview.

“This is not a question of failing, children didn't fail — we did — whatever it is that didn't allow that child to continue or to thrive that is something we have to make up for,” Paterson said.

But more alarming, experts say remote learning is causing more anxiety for children.

Boquard says that's what's happening to her son.

“I’ve seen new anxiety in him,” Boquard replied. “It’s creating this internal anxiety where he just is in fear and he thinks that anything he does isn't good enough.”

Dr. Wendy Paterson, dean, School of Education at SUNY Buffalo State, in Zoom interview.

“How worried are you about this level of anxiety that he's dealing with? Are you going to have to seek some help now with that as well?,” asked Buckley.

“He was seeing a psychologist, but I actually just signed him up with a life coach,” Boquard responded.

According to the CDC, mental health-related ER visits for children ages 5 to 17 increased nearly 28 percent between March and October of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

“What we're trying to do is connect child physiologists and special educators and people who know how to interact with students who have special needs to again try to find out the kind of damage that has been done,” Dr. Paterson noted.

But not all students are struggling with remote learning. Buffalo school parent Keith Jones says his daughter, a senior at Bennett Innovation High School is doing quite well.

Buffalo school parent Keith Jones in Zoom interview.

“She hasn't fallen through no cracks — as a matter of fact — her grades are better now than when she was going to school,” Jones described.

7 Eyewitness News contacted Orchard Park Schools superintendent Matthew McGarity for information on how they are assisting students.

In an email, McGarity responded “we believe that as a district we have developed a plan that has students in session face to face as much as possible, considering the safety and social distancing requirements that must be followed during this pandemic,” wrote McGarity. “Naturally, these student support interventions are varied when addressing different grade levels.”

The superintendent supplied the following examples of supports for hybrid students being utilized this school year:

  • Remote study labs with individual students on their at-home days
  • In-school study labs for students even on their remote days (8-10 am daily)
  • Additional in-person academic support, such as academic support during scheduled study halls
  • Teaching assistant working with 15:1 students on at-home days
  • Fully remote ICT students working with Boces provided special education teacher daily
  • Check in/check out program as needed for all cohorts of students
  • Full day study hall in school for extreme cases on an at-home learning day
  • Social workers providing supports to students
  • Worked with parents on learning model that met the needs of their child - either in person, or fully remote

Examples of supports for fully remote learning students this year:

  • Instructional resources and materials distribution plan
  • Remote study labs with individual students

Academic and social/emotional supports utilized this year for all students (regardless of learning modality):

  • Home visitations as needed to support parents and students
  • Home visits by counselors/social workers/assistant principals
  • Parent conferences
  • Development of individualized plans based on student needs
  • Adjustments and modifications to 504 plans and individualized education plans with data to support decision
  • Counselor check in and support
  • Flexibility in deadlines