There have been some questions regarding the implementation of the 5 day school week mandate sent down from the Mayor and the Chancellor. At PS 20 some families were offered invitations to attend school 5 days starting Monday, January 25th. A number of families were surprised and expressed concern about how the decisions for these invitations were made, noting issues of fairness and equity as key points. We want to address some of the issues so the community has a clear understanding of what's taking place.
- As stated, the mandate to implement the 5 day school week was inherently predicated on the space and personnel constraints that schools must contend with during COVID. Classroom sizes are restricted to 14 persons (including the educator and space for an administrator to be present). Having all children in the building under these COVID guidelines would mean hiring a teacher for each cohort, which the DOE has refused to do - full stop.
- There is concern about the potential for cross cohort spread of the coronavirus, however that concern does not supersede the Chancellor's mandate and is mitigated by the random testing and the continued adherence to the current safety measures that have kept our school community safe since the fall.
- Invitations for the 5 day schedule were based on data that reflected the needs of the student. IEP (individualized educational plans) students, ELL (English Language Learners - not bilingual) students who are performing below level in literacy or/and students who have struggled with access to technology/wifi while out of school are two critical points. In addition, students who have had issues with attendance and overall engagement during remote learning (without the support system), and students with temporary housing status were also offered invitations.
- The selection of these students (which was made with great care and effort on the part of the administration and in conjunction with teachers) was done exclusively through an "equity lens" - not an "equality lens". An equality lens assumes it's correct that all members of the community receive the exact same amount of a limited resource, while the equity lens assumes that members of the community receive access to these resources based on needs with the goal of equality of outcomes. In our case resources are provided to students to reduce the barriers to student achievement in the hopes that all of our students will meet the requisite achievement milestones. This is a subject that was explored during our work with equity practitioners a little over a year ago; work which we hope to continue with in the near future.
Thank you for your continued support and patience