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Western New York students now able to experience virtual field trips

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has halted all traditional field trips, some local museums have gotten creative.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many traditions to a screeching halt. That includes the good old fashioned school field trip.

Students have been missing out on the fun of learning outside the classroom or, in the case of 2020, learning outside their homes. 

That's until now. 

To help bring some normalcy back to students' lives, field trips are coming back, virtually that is. It's all thanks to a collaboration between AT&T and several of the sites kids would normally visit on one of their field trips during a typical school year.

Now, Western New York students will be able to take virtual field trips to Explore & More, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo History Museum and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.

It will consist of pre-recorded videos or live tours for students of all ages.

All of it is free because AT&T has provided a $75,000 grant for the virtual field trips. 

That means anyone who attends a Buffalo or Niagara Falls public or charter school, or a Western New York Title I school will be able to join in on the new way to experience a field trip this year. 

Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurrie says the virtual field trips provide something that a normal lesson on Zoom just can't. 

"It's incredibly important, it's something different than watching a Zoom interview or a Zoom conversation," Laurrie said. "As much as we try and spice it up and liven it up, it doesn't do the same thing. These exhibits come to life right in your very own living room. So this is just another tool in our toolbox of teaching that's so critical."

Laurrie says virtual field trips are part of the future and it could help take students on virtual field trips across the states and even the world. 

If you're an educator who would like to take your class on a virtual field trip, click here.

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