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Homework Hotline

Apr 13, 2020

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Dear Colleagues,

The PSC is teaming up with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the union representing 42,000 nurses in New York, to create the Homework Hotline-an initiative to provide academic support to the children of nurses while their parents are risking their lives to keep other New Yorkers safe. I am writing to invite you to participate by volunteering an hour or two a week to be available to help the children of nurses with their classes or homework.

Many of us have been looking for ways to support frontline workers, especially healthcare workers, in this terrible epidemic. One thing we can do is volunteer some time for their children, who have had to cope with distance learning and parents working long and grueling shifts in hospitals. I feel grateful for the opportunity to have something to offer, even if it’s small, to those who are offering so much.

If you can volunteer an hour or two a week, sign up here and specify the time you are available and the subject in which you are qualified to offer academic help. The subject areas have been kept broad because we anticipate that most of the students requesting help will be in elementary or secondary school. For now we have limited the subject areas to: Math, English, Science, Social Science, Spanish and, possibly, other languages. We may add more if there is a need for more or if greater specialization is needed.

Once we have a roster of volunteer faculty, we will provide a link to the roster to NYSNA members and their families. Students will sign up for tutoring in their desired subject at the time they need support. You can communicate with the student through email, video conferencing, phone conversation, or whatever combination works best for you and the student.

In order to protect your privacy and restrict the requests to your specified hours, the PSC staff strongly urge you to use a Zoom account or provide a dedicated email address and/or Google Voice number rather than your personal email and phone number. Simple instructions for signing on to these free services are below. Students will use that address or number to reach you during the times you specify.

If you’d like help signing up or have other questions, please contact Ida Cheng ([email protected]) at the PSC. And if you are seeking additional ways to offer support, our statewide affiliate, NYSUT, which represents thousands of healthcare workers, has made an urgent appeal for donations to buy PPE for healthcare workers on the frontlines. Please give generously.

I know that many of us are stretched thin in our own lives right now, but I hope that those who can will find an hour a week to join the Homework Hotline.

Thank you.

Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY


You can conduct your tutoring sessions using either Google Voice, Google Hangout, Google Video or Zoom. All three Google options require that you have a Gmail account. It might be best to set up a Gmail account just for this purpose, even if you have an existing Gmail account.

Create a Google Account
If you do not have a Gmail account already, please sign up on You will need to fill out basic information like your name, birthday, phone number and agree to Google’s terms and conditions.

Google Voice
By using a Google Voice number rather than your personal phone number, you can have the calls forwarded to your cell phone without disclosing your private phone number. When you are no longer a volunteer-tutor, you can disconnect your Google Voice number from your cell phone. Students will also have the ability to leave you voicemails. The directions to set up a Google Voice number are on their website.

Google Hangout and Google Video
You can log into Google Hangout from your email account and click on New Conversation and find the person you want to chat with by searching their email address. You can either chat by typing or live-chat by clicking on the video camera icon.

Many professors who have moved to online teaching already have a Zoom account. Please feel free to use your Zoom account to conduct your tutoring session. If you do not already have a Zoom account, please sign up for a free account using this link. Educators who sign up for a zoom account with their email addresses ending in “edu” will have the 40-minute limit lifted.

Please make sure to enable microphone access if you are using your computer or laptop.

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