Some Buffalo families seek ‘in-school’ learning at virtual centers

“But I’ve really missed going back to school”
Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 19:10:19-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “I like coming here because most of the times I get to do different activities,” declared Pharaoh Adams, 2nd grade, Buffalo Public School PS #81.

Pharaoh Adams, 2nd grade, Buffalo Public School PS #81, at the Virtual Support Center.

We now know Buffalo Public School students must remain in remote learning for at least a couple of months.

But with such a diverse population, the challenges created for city students learning at home is much higher than suburban learners.

Adams, seven, is among the 32-thousand Buffalo Public School students who’ve been trapped in remote learning since March.


But his mom, who needs to be at her job each day, was able to enroll Pharaoh at a Virtual Support Center at the Delavan Grider Community Center.

“But I’ve really missed going back to school,” Adams said.

Pharaoh Adams, 2nd grade.

“What do you miss most about being in school every day?” Buckley asked. “About seeing my classmates,” Adams replied.

The Virtual Support Centers are helping school families bridge the gap between a lack of in-school learning and riding out the pandemic.

“If the schools are closed — where do they go — where are you comfortable as a parent sending them,” remarked Candace Moppkins, Delavan Grider Community Center.

Candace Moppkins, Delavan Grider Community Center.

Moppins said they currently serve 15-students from Buffalo Public, private and charter schools, and some students from Cheektowaga in K-through 8th grade.

“In the last two weeks — we've have had probably over 50 calls,” Moppkins.

Buffalo school leaders decided they won't beginreopening schools until February.

Buffalo Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

“We want to open. We will open — one day — but not today,” stated Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools.

Superintendent Cash said It's not safe to reopen at a time when COVID cases are once again rising.

Students have been attending the virtual center since October.

But students have been attending the virtual center since October and Moppkins says they've had “no” COVID cases and follow all the safety protocols.

“Parents are not allowed in the building. They actually drop the kids off at the door. We ask them the five COVID questions — we temp them,” explained Moppkins.

The virtual center includes help from retired Buffalo school teacher Margaret Boykin.

Retired Buffalo school teacher Margaret Boykin is assisting at center.

“We just kind make sure we focus — when they're off task — that's the hardest part,” said Boykin.

The program also provides supplemental learning material.

“So when they're off of classroom time — then we can support them with math, ELA, creative writing,” described Boykin.

Adams said during his lunch break he is encouraged to write stories. He shared what he wrote in his notebook — a mysterious Buffalo story.

Pharaoh Adams, 2nd grade.

“It’s about someone’s grandma, with a monster coming to teach them how to snow board,” Adams explains.

Students aren't just sitting in the classroom all day on computers.

They take physical education classes inside the centers gym.

The classes are kept small at the Delavan Grider Center for safety reasons and there’s a waiting list, but Say Yes Buffalohas a full listing of centers across the city.