About 5000 multilingual students are in the Buffalo schools but only an English reopening plan

Posted at 5:19 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 11:28:00-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — 5,000 multilingual students speaking more than 82 languages. Yet there is only one Buffalo Schools reopening plan in English.

“As an expert in translation, I understand that it might not be practical to have the whole document translated into all 85 languages but it is an equity issue that our ELL families are not getting the same information as everyone else,” said Emily Brady-Santos, Director of Interpretation and Translation at the International Institute of Buffalo.

English language learner families, or ELL families, are facing an uphill battle.

“It presents some challenges to them to be able to make plans and decisions about what the parents are going to do in the fall to know what their options are, hybrid or remote, and to be able to plan for that,” Brady-Santos said.

The Buffalo School's Assistant Superintendent of Multilingual Education said they're working on solutions like having translators available during parent meetings. They're also using the system Talking Points to communicate with ELL families.

“Talking points allows families to write in their home language or preferred language to the teacher and the principal and the teacher or the principal can respond in English but the text is returned in their home language,” Naida Nashir, Buffalo School’s Assistant Superintendent of Multilingual Education, said.

They will also be distributing these flyers with explanations of new terms like hybrid learning and remote learning to ELL families in their preferred language. There's also six district translators available for parents.

“This flyer was sent out to our parents pre-COVID. What it shows is the name of the interpreter, their languages that they speak and how to contact them,” Nashir said.

The flyer is below:

The final reopening plan will be available in the district's top languages. ELL families can seek help through this: