Western Suffolk BOCES is committed to providing our students with a comprehensive instructional program that can be delivered in-person or remotely, should schools be directed to close due to pandemic-related reasons.
The diverse programs offered through our Special Education Division and Career and Technical Education Division are designed to meet the needs of our students. While every program is appropriately centered on instructional standards and benchmarks, the programs themselves are unique from each other intra-divisionally and inter-divisionally.
For your information and convenience, the following is the information from our Re-Opening of Schools Plan that addresses remote learning. Students/parents may receive specific information as it pertains to the specific program they/their children are enrolled in from their teachers and, where applicable, related service providers.
Western Suffolk BOCES staff is available to provide technological and instructional support whether students are receiving instruction in-person or remotely.
(The following is excerpted from the Western Suffolk BOCES Re-Opening of Schools Plan, as of August 20, 2020.)
Access to technology for all students is essential to provide appropriate instruction. At Western Suffolk BOCES, we continue to ensure all of our students, particularly homeless and students from impoverished families, have internet connectivity and necessary electronic devices to use at home. We work through many community agencies as well as using our own resources, to ensure all students have the necessary access to technology to support their success in school. Western Suffolk BOCES has been committed to ongoing planning and implementation of technologies to ensure equitable access for staff and students. Western Suffolk BOCES has initiated plans that are mindful of student home access to reliable internet and computers.
- Western Suffolk BOCES has hired an additional Instructional Technology Consultant to work with our staff, students and families to support technology education, especially during periods of distance learning.
- Western Suffolk BOCES recently gathered data and asked teachers and families to identify their level of access to devices and high-speed broadband from their residence. The agency will continue to assess the ongoing needs of families for technology and connectivity (survey, interviews, school outreach, etc.) In the event students and/or teachers do not have access, Western Suffolk BOCES will take the necessary steps to meet their needs where plausible.
- Conduct and/or maintain an inventory of equipment and other assets.
- Identify which students, families, and staff have assets in their possession.
- Procure, manage and/or maintain hardware, software, licenses, learning management systems, etc. to support and improve virtual instruction and student engagement.
- Identify professional learning needs for teachers and continue to support their development of skills and pedagogy in a virtual learning environment.
Western Suffolk BOCES, like many other school districts, has substantially increased its inventory of electronic instructional devices to support our students anticipating distance learning may continue in schools this Fall 2020. Western Suffolk BOCES will provide students with access to learning materials and resources in multiple formats, wherever possible. Further, the agency will continue to support teachers through professional development and coaching on pedagogical methods that enable students to participate in multiple ways, so that they can demonstrate mastery of Learning Standards in remote or blended models through the use of both synchronous (i.e. Google Meet or other web conferencing tool) and asynchronous technologies (i.e. Google Classroom or other LMS).
This past Spring 2020, when schools were closed, Western Suffolk BOCES provided free access to our teaching staff, as well as to teachers on Long Island, to extensive virtual professional development webinars. These webinars were always well attended by teachers from Western Suffolk BOCES schools as well as other school districts. These webinars focused on providing training to teachers using electronic platforms such as Google, Zoom, etc. to provide more effective distance learning instruction to students. These webinars also provided training to teachers in specific software applications with respect to distance learning, which were related to standard based instruction a well as individual student targets in their IEP, as appropriate. We expect to continue to provide this training to teachers to support both distance learning and in-person instructional activities this Fall 2020. Western Suffolk BOCES will also continue to connect with families to educate them on how to use the technologies and connect to the instructional activities.
Western Suffolk BOCES provides instruction to students from 18 component districts and it is likely that several of those districts will be operating different schedules and methods of instruction delivery. Instruction in Western Suffolk BOCES will be designed so that whether it is delivered in-person, remotely, or through a hybrid model due to a local or state school closure, there are clear, comprehensive, and accessible learning opportunities for all students. Such opportunities will be aligned with New York State Learning Standards.
Our teaching and instructional plan outlines routine, scheduled times for students to interact and seek feedback and support from their teachers. Our plan is centered on instruction and academic programming that includes regular and substantive interaction with an appropriately certified teacher regardless of the delivery method (e.g., in person, remote or hybrid). Clear communication for how students and their families/caregivers can contact the school and teachers with questions about their instruction and/or technology will be provided. This information will be accessible to all, available in multiple languages, widely disseminated, and include clear and multiple ways for students and families to contact schools and teachers (e.g., email, online platform, and/or by phone) in an effort to assure learning for all.
The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, Western Suffolk BOCES will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.
Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice. Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.
Remote learning opportunities for students will include a combination of synchronized and asynchronized learning opportunities to maintain community and teacher access [may not be applicable to all programs]. Teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis. Digital and non-digital options will be made available to students.
To ensure high-quality digital-remote learning experiences, Western Suffolk BOCES will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, with the exception of those who required specialized platforms for related services, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.
Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.