September 8th is the First Day of School: What Will the Re-opening Look Like?

Important Numbers to Help Parents and Students Navigate the New Virtual Education Experience 816-7100 – The District Help Line  and 816-3500 The Board of Education Switch Board

Tuesday, September 8, will mark the beginning of the school year for the district’s public school children.

It will be a “soft” virtual opening of sorts, with teachers, by way of remote learning,   dedicating the first two weeks to social and emotional learning, according to  Buffalo Public Schools Chief Academic Officer, Anne Botticelli.

“It will be different,” she said. “We know a lot of students have experienced trauma these past few months and we want to listen to their concerns and help them find outlets if they need support…also help them get used to the new school environment and become more comfortable and answer any questions they may have.”

“We didn’t just want to start back opening a textbook,” she continued. “We want to get the year off on the right foot and have conversations with the students…help them with the new technology.

The district’s Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Initiative (CLRI) with Dr. Fatima Morrell will also be very much a part of the experience the first two weeks, but most  importantly imbedded throughout the school year.  As Dr. Morrell has stated, “educational  equity has the ability to positively impact the lives of our young scholars in every endeavor of human achievement.”

However, with the first day less than a week away many parents still have questions.  They are encouraged to contact their home school or the district help line at 816-7100 for support. 

The district will reassess its current remote learning plan in four to six weeks and determine whether it is possible to switch to a hybrid model, with students working from home some days and from the school campus the other days. 

-Schoology-

In order to streamline the experience for teachers and families, all instructors will use the Schoology learning management system as the main portal for students to find assignments and access Microsoft Teams, the district’s conferencing platform.

There are a number of ways parents can learn about Schoology, Ms. Botticelli offered.  

First there are videos available on the district website made by student tech leaders. Go to   buffalochools.org to learn how to log onto Schoology no matter what device you are using.

Another way is through virtual training sessions for parents and Facebook Live sessions which will be available to explain Schoology.

-What if your Child Doesn’t Have a Device Yet?- 

Devices are currently available for all students in grades 2 through 12.  Families can visit the new Center for Innovation, Technology and Training at 1515 South Park Avenue to pick up a device or hotspot. Devices for students in grades PK-1 have been ordered and will be distributed to families as soon as possible. 

Schools should be communicating with families prior to the re-opening.

Because of digital divide in parts of the city and the numbers of homeless or displaced children, the issue of access to a tablet or a computer is a very real.

Two of the most important numbers parents and students should keep on hand are:

•816-7100 – The Help Line (i.e., if your child needs a device or forgot a password and can’t log in to Schoology) or 

•816-3500 -The Board of Education Switch Board (for any questions you may have or departments you may want to reach)

 Parents are encouraged to update their contact information (i.e., if they’ve changed their email addresses).

Next week and the week following is expected to “generally be very welcoming,” said Ms. Botticelli. 

~staff writer