District Offers Distance Learning Hotline During Remote Learning

With hundreds of students and teachers online this semester, technology problems can quickly escalate for families trying to access academic instruction and educators leading classrooms. 

Salamanca City School District launched its own "Call Center Hotline" to help ensure district teachers, students and parents can stay connected. 

Prior to the district’s first school day on September 1, the administration team met with members of information technology staff and district instructional coaches.

“We shifted priorities from reviewing fall instructional goals to creating a call center in our large group instruction room,” said instructional coach, Aaron Straus. “It was an all-hands-on-deck experience. Our superintendent was vigorously answering calls, side-by-side with IT staff, administrative assistants and instructional support specialists.” 

Expert Salamanca staff members are made available to answer questions about the school district’s online learning plan, provide support for navigating the school district’s learning management system (Unified Classroom) and connect families to district resources that can address technical and academic well-being during this time of uncertainty. 

“A quick look across social media and parent groups and you see how parents and teachers are struggling across the nation with remote instruction,” said Susan Schnaufer, district EdTech Coach. “Some of this is due to unfamiliar distance learning apps that are now essential to school operations.”       

Specific questions about school-based assignments may be referred to the student’s teacher. If a call center support staff member cannot answer the question immediately, the caller will receive a call back within 24 hours from a school division specialist more familiar with the inquiry. 

“We appreciate the added level of support offered by faculty for our students, who may experience the same technical difficulties and challenges that all of us face from time to time in our homes," superintendent Robert Breidenstein said. "Community support for families is a critical component for success in our district, whether virtual or in-person, and this technical commitment to our families is a driving force in determining the need to add three more IT specialists to our staff at Salamanca.” 

Salamanca students have been learning remotely from home since the school year began. Since opening its digital doors, the district has fielded hundreds more requests for tech support compared to the same period last year. At this point, district Technology Director Robert Miller said, “most of the issues families are raising involve the quality of internet connectivity and Unified Classroom navigation.” 

“We’ve realized with full-time online learning, there’s a gap between skills and accessibility and we are employing the help desk to help families learn from home,” deputy superintendent Dr. Mark Beehler said. “Reinventing the school day also means reinventing the way that we support our students and their families. Many are navigating this distance learning world for the first time, and we want to make sure that we are there to provide the best level of support.” 

For assistance with tech issues, students, teachers, and parents can visit https://www.salamancany.org/page/support , email the help desk at helpdesk@salamancany.org or call 716-945-2400 x 6128 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for assistance with tech issues.   From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. the district carries a closed video chat for district families to call in for technology support during high volume weeks.