Virtual Learning Support Centers to open in Buffalo next month

Posted at 5:03 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 17:58:41-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Parents are going back to work, and finding someone to watch their children as they study remotely has been a challenge. Add to that the challenge of having access to wifi and technology to get schoolwork done.

But new resources offer help: virtual learning support centers all across Buffalo, paid for by the CARES Act.

"As long as schools are closed, we as a community need really creative ways to allow students to have safe places to go to for their synchroneous and asynchroneous learning for enrichment and for meals," said David Rust, Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo.

The support centers will be offered at no cost to families with an income at or under 85% of the New York state median income.

More than 50 sites are set to open next month, offering places for students in grades K-8 all over Erie county.

"This financial investment means that thousands of children will get the help they need to succeed in school, transition back to school, and close the gaps in learning that have been caused by his insidious pandemic," said Dr. Will Keresztes, Chief of Intergovernmental Affairs at Buffalo Public Schools

Each center will have a maximum capacity in keeping with social distancing.

The West Side Community Services Center in Bufalo is going to be one of those virtual learning support centers. There are 40 confirmed centers and eight pending.

This is where support was offered to children and their families when the pandemic caused schools to close and move to online learning.

"We have had kids here at 7:30 in the morning in tears. We have been on the phone with them, walking them through how to do school online," said Kate Hillman, Executive Director of the West Side Community Services.

Centers will operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 4:30 through December 30.

"Staff at these centers will support children in their daily remote learning. Additionally, centers will provide breakfast, lunch and snack as well as other programming to take place during the hours that are not engaged in remote learning," said Dan Cross-Viola, Director of Extended Learning at Say Yes Buffalo.

At the same time, BPS is working on a Community WiFi initiative to help provide internet to families, and is trying to complete a pilot program first.

A spokesperson tells us schools in the poorest zip codes in the city were selected for the program. They include: Futures Academy, Charles Drew School, BUILD Academy, School #3, Frank Sedita School, Herman Badillo School, Harvey Austin School and East High School.