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Dog stays connect with students virtually during remote learning

April 28, 2020

With students around the city learning remotely, teachers are digging deep to keep kids connected, and they’re turning to some four-legged friends for help.

Mushu is a member of the Department of Education’s Comfort Dog Program. He provides educational and emotional support at school to hundreds of sixth through eighth graders.

When New York City schools closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Assistant Principal Philip Hammaack found a way to keep the comfort available to students.

“There’s a lot of research that indicates reading to dogs in person is a really great way for struggling readers…. As we’ve moved into remote learning, it’s been a way for us to connect with kids,” said Hammack.

For an hour each Wednesday afternoon, Hammack and his canine co-author host virtual storytime.

They read books like “Mushu Makes A Mistake” and “Mushu Goes To School” to sixth graders.  They also tackle themes that are relevant to the times and give students a chance to talk about them.

Those experiences can also serve as inspiration for Mushu’s next story. Hammack says students are submitting ideas to keep the tales coming.

“The entire city is figuring out how to do this. And Mushu is just a tiny piece of that puzzle, but an important one,” said Hammack.

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