Schools for the blind, deaf and severely physically disabled maintain connection to students and families

As every school in New York State seeks to maintain close ties to its students, 10 schools specializing in educating blind, deaf and severely physically disabled students are bringing creativity to their programs with a special attention to ensuring accessibility to at home instruction and a familiar connection for all.

New York State directed all schools to suspend on-campus learning on March 18 to help counter the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) including those with special programs that facilitate learning among the disability community, such as the 4201 Schools, a reference to a section in the state education law authorizing a select group of privately operated schools to be supported with public funds.

In addition to providing important information for combating the virus, 4201 Schools provided home learning packets for students, and within days virtual classrooms were created to keep students engaged academically and socially.

“The health and safety of our students is our first priority, and while students are not physically in the classroom due to COVID-19, they are engaging with peers and teachers on a daily basis,” said Bernadette Kappen, executive director of the New York Institute for Special Education and the Association’s chairperson. “Some of our members are also packaging on-the-go meals for students that relied on the breakfast and lunch offerings that schools provide.”

The schools participating in the meal programs are:

St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf supports a kindergarten through eighth grade program. Most of its students are residents of the five boroughs. It is also offering online resources for students and parents including:

  • Mommy and Me sessions featuring instruction in yoga, cooking, art and music;
  • Financial and mental health counseling;
  • ASL storytelling; and
  • Online art classes.

For additional information, details and updates – please visit the individual members of the 4201 Schools Association:

New York Institute For Special Education (Bronx Co.)

Lavelle School for the Blind (Bronx Co.)

St. Joseph School for the Deaf (Bronx Co)

St. Francis School for the Deaf (King Co.)

Lexington School for the Deaf (Queens Co.)

Henry Viscardi School (Nassau Co.)

Cleary School for the Deaf (Suffolk Co.)

New York School for the Deaf (Westchester Co.)

Rochester School for the Deaf (Monroe Co.)

St. Mary’s School for the Deaf (Erie Co.)