CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — It is now three weeks into the new school year and 7 Eyewitness News decided to check with some districts that have implemented a full remote learning option for students and teachers.
Buffalo, Ken-Ton, Maryvale, and West Seneca are all using a full remote plan.
Maryvale Superintendent Joseph D'Angelo said his district has decided to extend fully remote learning before switching to a hybrid model. The decision was based on three main factors; some cases of Covid have occurred in the school community, concerns over NYS funding cuts delayed the purchase of plastic desk shields, and transportation issues still need to be worked out.
"I think our community would feel like we are cutting corners on safety. That is not something that I was willing to do," added the superintendent, who admitted that he is getting pressure from some parents to implement hybrid learning sooner.
Students in Maryvale Schools now get five days of remote learning. A tentative date of November 30 is set for the switch to hybrid learning for Pre-K through 6th grades. Students in 7th through 12th grades will make the switch to hybrid on December 14th.
However, Superintendent D'Angelo cautions that things outside the school's control during the pandemic could force the extension of full remote learning even longer.
Overall, Maryvale Schools say remote learning is working well with the biggest problem being internet provider outages.
Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) got off to a bumpy start with full remote learning. 800 people a day were lining up to get technology help at the district's South Buffalo tech center for Innovation, Technolgy and Training. Some people told 7 Eyewitness News they waited for more than an hour to get help.
Things have improved greatly, said BPS Chief Technology Officer Myra Burden. Changes to scheduling and servicing have reduced the number of people seeking help to about 200 per day, with wait times around 15 minutes.
"That is also indicative of people getting use to the instructional applications," said Burden.
The school district said all students are now connected with 94% of them having picked-up devices from Buffalo Schools.
Connectivity issues did cause some concerns and the school district has made changes with its network to help families.
"Technology, as much as we rely on it, can still be unpredictable," explained Burden.
For Buffalo Public School families looking for tech help, the district provided the following information:
For all BPS technology issues including device pick-up, or missing or broken parts, please visit our technology hub at 1515 South Park Ave., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10AM-4PM, with extended hours on Wednesdays from 10AM-6:30PM. No appointment is necessary.
For difficulties logging on, please turn device off and then power up again. If that does not work, call 816-7100 and press Option 1.