Dear Friend of JP:
I hope that your experiences with our first days of remote learning have, overall, been positive, engaging, and not too stressful. Let’s hope and work together to ensure the ensuing days (and, it appears, maybe the ensuing weeks) will become easier.
One way to enhance the success of our pupils’ experiences (and, perhaps, their parents’ sanity!) is to develop a weekday routine. Parents should wake their youngsters daily at the same time—just as they do on regular school days—have children (teens, too!) follow their typical morning routine (that’s right: get them out of their pajamas!) for washing, having breakfast, washing again (the more times the better!), and brushing their teeth.
Then, our boys and girls should follow a set schedule: time for reading, writing, and math; time for science or social studies; time a “specials” subject (art, health, library, music, physical education, social-emotional learning, or, for our pupils in grs. 2-5, Spanish). You can decide how to order these subjects and where to include “brain breaks”; in good weather, some outdoor time serves as a good refresher.
Again, please set firm expectations for your children’s daily routine and schedule. Doing so will likely make your life simpler and more pleasant by reducing parental pleading and youngsters’ efforts at procrastination.
Here are some other thoughts:
- The biggest hurdles you and we have encountered these first days have related to technology. Some families have experienced difficulty logging into PowerSchool Learning or other electronic platforms that our teachers are using. We believe that we’ve resolved most of these issues.
However, if you continue to have trouble, please reach out, first, to your child’s teacher. If he or she is unable fully to help you, you may receive assistance from Mark Javick, JP’s (superb!) tech assistant, at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or Krista Galyon, our district’s (equally superb!) tech guru, at <email@example.com>.
- Another tech-related issue concerns access to devices for families without a computer and/or Internet capability. For all our pupils in grs. 3-5 who are eligible for subsidized meals, we expect that we’ll resolve this issue by Wed., Mar. 18th. If you have a need in this regard, please reach out to Mr. Javick (please see above), Liliana Morenilla, at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or me, at <email@example.com>.
- Please heed the advice of medical professionals by practicing social distancing. This means no playdates, sleep-overs, birthday parties, or even home-schooling get-togethers.
Shilpa Pai, a JP parent and, more importantly for this discussion, a pediatrician, has issued a public statement pointing out that children can (a) contract and (b) spread the virus. Dr. Pai has emphasized that just because youngsters haven’t exhibited any symptoms doesn’t mean the childen don’t have the virus and can’t infect others.
- Our municipal government’s Human Services Commission (directed by JP alumna Melissa Urias!) is collectingnon-perishable food, hygiene, and toiletry items to share with Princeton families in need during this difficult time. JP’s all-purpose room (cafeteria) is a collection site, and we’ll accept donations on Wed., Mar. 18th, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Thu., Mar. 19th, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- This past Mon., Mar. 16th, our district’s bus drivers and our instructional assistants packed and delivered breakfast and lunch supplies for the next two weeks to the families of about 100 JP pupils (and about 500 students districtwide) eligible for subsidized meals. If your family, regardless of eligibility, didn’t receive that food and needs such support, please call JP, 609-806-4240, or e-mail me (as noted above), so that we can arrange to get those supplies to you.
- Based on our teachers’ reports, it seems that our attendance procedures have generally worked well. Please be sure to document your pupil’s daily attendance by whatever process your youngster’s teacher has outlined. If in doubt, reach out to your child’s teacher or e-mail me.
- As we become more comfortable with our procedures, we hope that our electronic interactions and telephone calls will focus on teaching and learning and making sure that our kids are progressing. We expect that our teachers and other educators will be in touch with our boys and girls and their parents several times each week, so please take advantage of those check-ins to share important information—successes and challenges—with our colleagues. We want to celebrate and to help, if even from afar!
We know that remote learning presents many challenges for our families. Please understand that, if your children areunable to complete every lesson or activity, it’s O.K.; if you find yourself swamped and wondering what might be most essential or how you might best modify assignments to make them more manageable for your unique pupils, please reach out to your sons’ or daughters’ teachers to get the latters’ professional insight.
We know that this societal emergency will increasingly adversely impact our families, some more severely than others. We realize, too, as educators and parents, that even in optimal conditions, it’s incredibly tough simultaneously to balanceour own adult responsibilities with teaching our children.
Please remember that this new reality is tough on our kids, too. If you feel overwhelmed, need pedagogcial advice, or require other types of support for your family, please reach out to your child’s teacher or to me. We’ll certainly explore ways that we can help, either right away or by directing you to relevant resources: people, agencies, or whatever.
As we’ve said before, “It takes a village not only to raise a child but to overcome major challenges.” Our JP Village—comprised of our children, their families, our staff members, and our school-district and municipal officials—shall prevail. We need to work together to ensure that’s the outcome.
With appreciation for your understanding, patience, support, and good humor towards one another,
Robert A.Ginsberg, Principal
Johnson Park School
"Most young kids will remember
how their family home felt during the coronavirus panic
more than anything specific about the virus.
Our kids are watching us and learning about how to respond to stress and uncertainty. Let's wire our kids for resilience, not panic."