With preparations made weeks in advance, charter schools in the Bronx charters began virtual learning two weeks ago.
Miriam Raccah, executive director of Bronx Charter School for the Arts, 950 Longfellow Ave. and Lester Long, executive director of South Bronx Classical Charter Schools, 977 Fox St., spoke with the Bronx Times about how the schools are adapting to the difficult times.
“Whether we’re in-person or learning remote, our school doesn’t sacrifice the arts, and we’re committed to ensuring every child gets the best instruction possible no matter the circumstances,” Raccah said. “Because of our proactive preparations and our extraordinary staff, we have been able to hit the ground running over the last week. We are going to continue to build on this foundation, and any principal or school leader, whether in district schools or charter schools, can feel free to reach out to absorb our best practices and put them into action.”
Raccah explained they anticipated something around mid-February, so they dotted their I’s and crossed their T’s. The school did an inventory on which kids had laptops, and families that didn’t were able to come to the school for them. School officially closed March 12.
“It’s been very different,” Raccah said. “It has been going remarkably well all things considered. I said to my team we don’t know what it is, but it’s going to be bad.”
The kids learn from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and so far there has been a 90 percent attendance rate, she said. According to Raccah, many of the parents have to work and are extremely grateful the schools are doing virtual learning.
Raccah noted that parents have given positive feedback and have a new appreciation for what teachers do.
“Parents are amazed at how much our teachers are doing,” she said. “They’ve been amazing in their willingness to keep working.”
Like Raccah, Long and his staff saw the writing on the wall. They shuttered their school March 22 and began virtual learning the next day.
The staff surveyed the parents to find out who needed laptops and purchased 250 for the students. By next week everyone will have one. Long said the virtual learning is a huge load off the shoulders of parents.
Long commented that parents have even said the teachers deserve raises.
“To many of our families, school is like a second home, and we’ve been preparing for this situation for several weeks for that very reason,” Long said. “Now now more than ever, we need structure, community and each other. By being prepared early, we’ve been able to offer our students critical continuity.”