Years from now, people may fall into the habit of asking each other: What were you doing right before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and how did it change your life?
Here at City Connects, we’ve already been asking these questions — aboutour students and aboutour work. We are also asking how we can be even more effective as the country addresses long-standing racial inequities.
And now, as we move into the fall, in a mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid schools and classrooms, we are determined to get the right services to the right child at the right time.
In our progress reports, which are published every other year, we reflect on the past and assess the present. But this year, we’ve also taken the time to express our gratitude for all the hard work that has gotten us through the pandemic.Continue reading →
It’s September and going back to school – in-person or on Zoom – is an obstacle course of trying to keep students safe, keep them learning, and keep them connected to their school communities and to essential services and supports, as City Connects does.
“The earth is moving under everyone right now,” Mary Walsh, the Executive Director of City Connects says. “But what we’ve seen is the value of having the City Connects system. It creates a record for every child, so we know the kids, and we know what their strengths and needs are.”
Back in March, when the pandemic hit, City Connects moved its system of integrated student support online. City Connects’ Coordinators ran groups, sat in on classes, and reached out to families.
During late spring and summer, City Connects staff took stock and began preparing for the fall. Now, the City Connects system is stronger and more responsive to the pandemic’s demands and to the needs of students and families.
Here are some of the things City Connects has been learning and doing.
“We were able to more clearly see the impact of the services that kids had and then lost because of the pandemic,” Walsh says. “Especially services like dental vans that brought dental care right to schools. Even the New York Timesis reporting on this. There are some services we could move online, but we’re being reminded how important in-school services like dentistry are.”Continue reading →
COVID-19 has hit students, families, and schools hard. But City Connects is working hard to keep students connected to education and supportive services.
To share this story, Joan Wasser Gish, Ellen Wingard, and Stephanie Sanabria — joined Ben Forman on an episode of the Gateways podcast, presented by local nonprofit think tank, MassINC.
“It feels like in this moment when the disruption caused by COVID is making inequities so palpable, and is lifting the lid on how critical family circumstances really are to children’s readiness to engage in learning, and thrive and have choices in life, this kind of work is something that’s going to become more and more important.” Wasser Gish says. She’s the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Center for Optimized Student Support, which is the home of City Connects and part of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College.
“In Salem, if you interviewed principals right now, they would tell you they wouldn’t have known what to do in their first few weeks of closures if they didn’t have their City Connects Coordinators at their virtual side to help them pivot and use the student support system that we had within the buildings [and shift them] to a virtual world,” Ellen Wingard, the City Connects Program Manager in Salem, Mass., says.
“[Because of] having the City Connects model, where we have this tiering system — we review every child in the fall — so we have insight as to who our children are, who our families are,” Stephanie Sanabria, a City Connects Coordinator in Springfield, Mass. says.
To hear the rest of the conversation, please listen to the podcast.