Residential Program Staff go Above and Beyond During Pandemic
The League School’s Residential Program has been a model of excellence during this unprecedented time. When the state required that our on-site school program close, our residential staff sprung to action to ensure a safe, comforting, and educational program for our residents. Although many residential students went home, approximately a dozen students remained, and teamwork was instrumental in ensuring continued success for our students. “Since school closed on March 19th, the Residential Staff, along with a handful of school staff, have quickly formed an alliance in ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the students,” said Kerry Figueiredo, Coordinator of Residential Services. “We are a strong team, and the work being done is nothing short of amazing.”
Health and Safety
The League School beefed up its student to staff ratios for the residential program so that students received the support needed to transition to new routines. During awake hours, we are achieving 1 to 2 student-to-teacher ratios. During sleep hours, it’s 1 to 4.
To limit opportunities for COVID-19 transmission, students and staff stay in their assigned residential home. We’ve added staff to clean the homes and all surfaces.
Students on the autism spectrum thrive on routine, and the pandemic caused a major disruption to students’ peace of mind. Joanne Garcon was one of the employees who dove in to help ease the transition for students. A 10-year League School employee, Teaching Assistant, and three-time Employee of the Month, including in April, Joanne was concerned that the change of routine would adversely affect student behaviors and well-being. “I have a creative teaching style, and I wanted to reassure my students and the other residents that they were safe, and that everything would be okay,” said Joanne. In addition to coordinating Zoom opportunities for students to connect with family and friends, she and other staff members carve out time for games and puzzles, and plan upbeat events, including dance parties.
“Learning how to “Zoom” and helping the students learn how to adapt to remote learning with their teachers and specialists was initially challenging because it was difficult for the students to understand why school was now being taught in the residences,” said Kerry. “But here we are, six weeks later, and wonderful things are happening!”
One of Joanne’s initiatives was to develop individual student schedules for staff and teachers. The schedule includes Zoom classrooms, clinician check-ins, math, move and groove time, and behavioral check-ins. Residential staff help the students log into Zoom for their scheduled activities. “I’m so proud of the kids and how they’ve adjusted to such difficult changes,” said Joanne. In addition to helping the residential adolescents and young adults, she continues to take part with her class’s head teacher in conducting Zoom classrooms for their students, four of whom live at the residences.
“I have to give a huge shout out to our Residential Department, who care for some of our students 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Chief Operating Officer, Larry Sauer. “Our residences have remained open throughout this crisis, and the Residential staff deserve all of our thanks and admiration for the incredible joy they are doing every day. They personify what it means to be essential staff.”