Educating Our Children In the Midst of the COVID-19 Crisis A Message To Our Valued Students, Their Families and Our Community


By Sharon Belton Cottman, President, Buffalo Board Education


This article is in support of our valued students, their families, and our community. 

During these times of change and uncertainty, the Buffalo Board of Education, along with the entire Buffalo School District,  stands committed to assisting our students in the continuity of education. Under the leadership of Superintendent  Dr. Kriner Cash, The Education Bargain is still in place and staff is working endlessly during this pandemic.  

The Education Bargain is between the District, the students and parents.  It states: “… that the District will guarantee pathways to opportunity that will lead to achievement and success in exchange for hard work, commitment, and collaboration of our students and parents.” As part of our ongoing efforts to assist our families, we have provided tools such as: telephoning, video calling, emails, video conferencing, social media and a BPS website As a result of our relationship with Community Partners, concerns regarding legal and mental health issues are being addressed.  Looking at the District’s website provides continuous information concerning community supports, comprehensive educational material, numerous resources for parents/students including educational games and fun activities. 

In addition, the website provides information concerning the Coronavirus 19 and additional community supports for families struggling. A 24-hour HELP Hotline, phone number (716) 861-7100 to address the concerns and needs of the students and parents is also active.  At the onset, high school students were sent home with their computers and assignments of which students and parents are responsible for. 

Second round assignments and personal tablets will be distributed to over 14,000 students in grades 3 – 8 starting April 14.  To date the Buffalo Public School District (BPS) has distributed over 322,500 nutritional breakfast and lunches; free to all of Buffalo’s students.  It is apparent that the delivery of the educational experience has dramatically changed. More than ever before, our student learners’ educational access and success, depends on their support systems which exist in their homes and communities.

Sharon Belton Cottman President Buffalo Board of Education

Under the Bargain, it is expected that the guardian/parent’s share is the responsibility of placing a high premium on education.  What is needed NOW is the assurance that each student’s support systems are working to the best of their ability and students are completing assignments. A very important part of the learning process, results in creating a learning environment suitable for student engagement and focus.  To be successful students must be able to concentrate and allot time to complete the learning assignments required for this academic year.   

The Buffalo Public Schools  cannot do this alone, we need the HELP of the Parents, Guardians and the Community. Teachers and Students’ interactions during the school closure should consist of teacher office hours virtually (online), via video conference and/or phone.  Teacher’s student check-ins, virtual (online) and or by phone.  Although there have been rumors that children will not return to school this school year, only the governor has that authority.  Regardless, students will be required to complete their assignments.   Our students cannot afford to lose any momentum.  Therefore, not completing assignments is not acceptable.   If you are struggling or have concerns or need help please call the HELP Hotline (716) 861-7100

We are aware that within our district many children struggle with varying factors which require supports.  We acknowledge that in many cases, this COVID 19 pandemic has heightened the need for more supports and resources.  The lack of access to resources such as  smart phones, telephones, computers, social media, and the internet access affords additional hardships and challenges. Some parents cannot read or struggle with the English language and have difficulty assisting children. Many families suffer with health and mental health concerns.  The District’s data is reflecting that our ‘interpretive services’ have experienced increased  usage from parents who struggle with the English language.     

 With the help of David Rust and the staff of ‘Say Yes to Education,’ Community Partners, and several regional colleges, an action plan is being developed to address the digital divide concerns.  It is our hope that within the next month, we will see more Wi-Fi and internet access for our students and community. It is important that each of our Community Partners, and our Parent Congress understand that we appreciate their trust and support. 

More than ever there is a need for parents and guardians to become engaged in the education of our most valuable assets, our children! A few more things you can do to assist are, to consider joining one of our five parent groups which makes up our Parent Congress. Reach out to your Principals and become a part of your child’s School Base Management Team.  Also you can participate by listening to our School Board’s workshops (5:00pm) and meetings (5:00pm) on the first 3 Wednesdays of the month.

Rest assured that the members of the Buffalo Board of Education, the Superintendent and the entire Buffalo Public Schools family are committed to making sure our students continue to learn and that our students and staff are safe in our schools.  Family members and community members can assist children who are struggling.   Know that the Buffalo Board of Education members are determined to support our students and will continue to adapt to the growing needs of our 32,000+ student population.   

It is our desire to support our school community and their families during this perilous time.   Together we will make it through, because we are 

Buffalo Public Schools Strong!