Andrew Bogey invited 350 of his students in the Bolivar-Richburg Central School District to take a field trip to Italy with him.

Only eight showed up.

The lack of response to the field trip, which Bogey scheduled on Google Earth, did not surprise him. Since the school districts across New York went online as a COVID-19 precaution, Bogey has experienced a struggle to get his students in pre-K through grade 5 to show up for classes.

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Bogey, who teaches what he termed “special classes” such as typing and robotics to students in pre-k through grade 5, was among four educators who participated in the most recent “Tuesday Talks With Tracy,” hosted by Tracy Mitrano, the Democratic candidate for the 23rd Congressional district.

“I think there are many variables for students not being there,” Bogey said. “Access is a major part. The other is because we do not have an actual bell schedule. It is at the child’s and parents’ discretion.”

Not everyone is going to be on an even playing field, and it is important to make sure that the children who already struggle do not fall even further behind because of online classes, Bogey said.

The other three responded similarly that adjusting to online schooling has been a struggle and that they are concerned about children falling behind.

“We are really trying to figure out how to react and how to keep our families and communities taken care of,” Kathryn Cernera, a middle school English teacher in the Ithaca School District, said. “Education is really second, behind making sure people are safe and secure.”

Claire Gleitman, an English professor at Ithaca College said, “in higher education, falling behind is not a major concern, but there are some classes that just could not be transferable to online.”

Gleitman included among the classes she deemed not “transferable” as most courses in arts, dance and physical education.

Dora Leland, a high school history teacher in  the Horseheads School District, said, “This distance learning has shined on a light on the inequality of the Southern Tier. It all stems back to their living environment. Education takes a backseat sometimes.”

Mitrano pointed out that more people are without internet access than originally thought and that even those who do have the internet do not have what they need to support the video conferences that online schooling calls for. For her inaugural Tuesdays with Tracy call, which was on April 7, Mitrano talked to small business owners about how COVID-19 has impacted them.

The teachers on Tuesdays call expressed hope for the future and speculated how people will remember their experiences in the pandemic.

 “I hope they remember the sense of community we are trying to foster within our school district and other districts in our area,” Leland said. “I hope they remember the importance of community in times of crisis.”

For more information on the Coronavirus in the Greater Olean area, visit TAPinto Greater Olean's Coronavirus Updates page, which is updated continuously.

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