With the closure of schools and early learning centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ABCD is using distance learning to support the continued progress of youth and children in its programs.
ABCD’s two high schools, William J. Ostiguy High School and University High School, transitioned nearly overnight to distance learning after the schools closed their buildings on March 17th. The schools worked with BPS to loan Chromebooks to students who didn’t have their own laptops. In addition, Life Science Cares, a funder of the schools’ math and science remediation program, has partnered with Tech Goes Home to help fill in the gaps by providing mobile hotspots for students’ lacking a reliable internet connection and Chromebooks for new enrollees at Ostiguy High.
The teachers have gone above and beyond to support students’ continued engagement and learning throughout the shift to distance learning. The schools maintain a regular schedule of classes using Zoom, and students are held accountable for completing assignments. An essential feature of both schools is the high level of counseling support, which has also transferred very successfully to a remote model. The counselors have reached out to every student, providing support to help them navigate the challenges they face, whether it be balancing increased hours at work with school work, needing cleaning supplies to maintain a safe environment at home, or dealing with anxiety caused by the pandemic. The Ostiguy students continue to meet virtually with their peers and staff to conduct their regular weekly recovery related meetings
Sherann Jackson-Alkins, University High Principal, noted, “While remote work has been challenging for the teachers, some of whom have their own children at home, they have been very open to learning new ways of teaching and finding new resources. In particular, the teachers have been encouraging the students to feel a sense of ownership of their work, and we are seeing many of the students rise to the challenge.”
Other ABCD programs are also going the extra mile to support children’s continued learning and development. The Head Start program has been reaching out to the children’s families, supplying weekly resources on age appropriate activities families can do with their children and enabling the teachers to facilitate online learning with their young charges. In addition, ABCD’s Housing Department, which has been providing support to homeless families housed in a Waltham motel, has purchased tablets that will be loaned to five families so their children can keep up in school.
Strong support for distance learning is just one of the many ways ABCD is supporting children and youth during the pandemic.