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Principals, guidance counselors have to keep kids on tracks to graduate amid intense challenges

Posted at 6:16 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 19:51:13-05

NEW YORK CITY — School-aged kids have had to adjust to a whole new world during the COVID-19 pandemic, from kindergartners to high schoolers

The student population at Liberation Diploma Plus High School has felt the impact of the pandemic particularly hard; several households lost two to three family members, and pressure is now on some students to join the workforce and put their education on hold.

Principal April Leong has an open door policy for all 217 students, whose ages range from 16 to 21 years old.

Her goal is to make sure they stay engaged through the school shut down — even making house calls, delivering groceries and offering laptops to kids without devices.

The Coney Island school remains in the yellow zone, but has reported zero positive cases from weekly COVID-19 testing.

The school's guidance counselor is making it her mission to show the students that it doesn’t have to be education or work, focusing on her biggest challenge of getting 100 seniors to graduate. (The average citywide high school attendance rate stands at 81.2%.)

Many students are thinking, “If I go to college, I have to do remote learning again, so now I can’t even find a job — so it’s helping them understand that it shall pass, but we still have to plan for the future regardless," said Rashida Balogun, the school's guidance counselor.

The cities 1.1 million students will be remote learning for the foreseeable future with 60,000 students still in need of devices. There is no publicly-available detailed plan to reopen at this time, but we know testing will be a priority.

The mayor said every student who wants to be back in the classroom will need to file a consent form for random monthly testing.