BOCES Program Transitions to Remote Learning in the Shadow of COVID

Ellie O’Sullivan, Sophomore, Features Editor

On May 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo cancelled all New York Public Schools for the rest of the school year. With this news, the Pelham School District will have to continue online learning through the middle of June. For the most part, learning translates online without much difficulty.  However, many questioned how the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) program would be able to transition. BOCES is a program that PMHS offers to students who want to pursue their passions and possible occupational opportunities during school hours. The program is very hands-on and requires students to attend academic school for half of the day and then practice their skills outside of the school for the second half of the day. The director of the BOCES program, James Matera, explained how the program is faring in this new age. As for what his classes are doing when they couldn’t be hands on, Matera put forward statements about each part of the program:

  • Cosmetology: Students were asked to perform a certain hairstyle on a parent or sibling, video the beginning, middle and end of the procedure – and return the video to their teacher. You should see some of the videos that came back which included music, etc. We had to mail home Manikin heads to our students along with some tools and implements they might not have had access to at home.
  • Culinary Arts: Students are designing menus – pricing out items, cooking the recipes – which include appetizers, main courses, and deserts, and sending pictures of their finished products back to the teachers. 
  • Automotive Tech: We have an online platform where students can access a digital textbook, lessons, activities — etc. We are still trying to figure out how to offer the ASE Certification exams to our students – especially the seniors, who we owe it to.
  • TV Video, Commercial Art, Architecture & Interior Design, CISCO and Fashion: These programs require software such as Adobe Creative Suite or AutoCAD that many students would not have licenses for at home. We worked together with our Tech Dept to put a “Remote Desktop” together and offered it to our students so they can essentially log in to our server from home and access the required software. The only requirement is an internet connection. A recent TV Video project is to shoot and edit a piece on the “impact of COVID-19” so taking the current circumstances we are in, and apply the shooting and editing techniques previously taught.
  • Fashion: We had to mail “care packages” home which included fabrics, sewing implements, etc. so they could complete their design projects – after they completed their design work using the Remote Desktop above.

Matera has nothing but praise for the BOCES staff’s anticipation of long-term closing and their ability to adapt quickly to this new type of learning.

“Their creativity and flexibility in these difficult times is very admirable,” Matera said.