Buffalo mom worries about her young son navigating remote learning

“It’s definitely is falling on parents"
Posted at 5:59 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 17:59:07-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “It’s definitely is falling on parents,” remarked Janna Willoughby-Lohr, parent, Buffalo Public School District.

Buffalo Schools announced this week that the school year would begin with remote only learning until at least October before re-evaluating the situation.

But now many parents are in a scramble to come up with a plan for in-home learning.

Janna Willoughby-Lohr, parent, Buffalo Public School District, with her five-year-old son Vernon & two-year-old Thurgood.

“It’s definitely going to be crazy,” said Willoughby-Lohr.

Willoughby-Lohr is trying to figure out how her young son will be able to navigate on-line learning next month.

The mother met with us downstairs from her Niagara Street home. That's where she runs her paper flower business, Papercraft Miracles, while navigating family life with five-year-old Vernon and two-year-old Thurgood.

Janna Willoughby-Lohr and son Vernon in her paper flower shop.

“Even trying to figure out how we are going to get a five year old to pay attention to anything on a screen, while his two year old brother is running around the house playing,” Willoughby-Lohr explained.

Vernon attends Buffalo Public School #81 in north Buffalo where he would be attending kindergarten, but for now he will be remote learning at home.

BPS #81 on Tacoma Avenue in north Buffalo.

“And now I have to kind of figure out how to do that,” Willoughby-Lohr reflected.

The mom says she feels lucky because she works downstairs from her home. Her husband works full-time, but her step mom helps with the kids.

She says she doesn't fault the school district for remote only learning and believes it's the safest route for kids.

“People say ‘oh they should have done in person learning’, but I can't even get him to keep this mask on while we're talking to each other, so how are four and five year olds expected to keep a mask on. I don't even know if I would have felt safe sending because I know that he's not going to keep his mask on all day long,” explained Willoughby-Lohr .

Outside BPS #81

But the Buffalo school mom has a lot of questions.

“It’s been really difficult for me not to have any idea from the school what kind of screen time commitment is required of my kid. Does he need to be on zoom from 10 to 12 every day?” Willoughby-Lohr questions.

“There will be a full day of, but not a full day of a student on a screen,” stated Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, chief of staff, Buffalo Public School District.

Brown-Hall answered a similar question during an informational Zoom meeting by the district Friday morning.

“So there will be some synchronous learning — where they are receiving instruction from their teachers but the school day will also have some a-synchronous learning where they are working on projects or assignments on their own,” Brown-Hall replied.

Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, chief of staff, Buffalo Public School District, during Zoom on Friday.

But it saddens the mom to know her five year old won't be able to experience the hands-on lessons of kindergarten.

“I think the most valuable thing about kindergarten is socializing and playing with other kids and learning when you have to sit down at the table to learn those social cues. I’m 38 and I totally remember my first day of kindergarten and how exciting that was,” recalled Willoughby-Lohr.

Willoughby-Lohr said she always very excited to know her kids would go to school to “learn from other people.”

Five-year-old Vernon and two-year-old Thurgood.

“I never wanted to be a homeschooling parent — never,” declared Willoughby-Lohr.

But Willoughby-Lohr said she only has one child to navigate through remote learning and worries for the other city school families that have more than one child.

“I don't even know how any parent can think about that — let alone more than two kids in different grades,” said Willoughby-Lohr.