Adjusting to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major undertaking for teachers and students. It has also been challenging for parents who are not familiar with the technology the Ossining School District uses, who have children just entering the educational system, or whose first language is not English.
To help bridge any gaps, Ossining offered a series of online webinars in English and Spanish, as well as eight in-person sessions (with precautions, masks and social distancing) for those who wanted additional help. The district provides students with Chromebooks that have all the applications they use.
The OUFSD Tech Page also has links to Help Desk forms in English and Spanish, family technology resources, the webinars and more. Students and parents/guardians can fill out a form online, send an email or call a phone number for help with logging in, Google applications, connecting to WiFi and other topics.
“The idea and the challenge of this was to be able to get directly to our families that have the greatest challenges accessing technology, helping students at home, etc.,” said Brian Alm, Ossining’s director of secondary teaching and learning.
The district has received many tech support requests, Dr. Alm said. “As long as there’s ongoing need, we’re going to try and keep doing this,” he said. “Just like students need repetition, parents need repetition.”
Brookside School dual language teacher Adriana Frega said she provided a lot of technical support to families in the spring, in addition to teaching. Some parents in Ossining do not come from a place of privilege. They may not have a personal computer at home, or they may be accessing everything via smartphone.
Offering the webinars and in-person sessions has given parents and guardians the background they need to assist their children. “Now, it’s all about leveling the playing field and looking at everything we do with an equity lens,” she said.
Marcela Briones-Levin, the district’s parent coordinator, said there was a wide range of experience and familiarity with technology in the sessions. “The workshops were very much needed, even for people that know how to manage technology,” she said.