Dear PS107 Parents,
The reopening of New York City schools is scheduled for just over two weeks away, Thursday September 10th. Today you will receive your child’s cohort-group assignment if your child is attending school in-person, or confirmation that your child will be learning remotely.
Determining the cohort assignments over the last two weeks has been painstaking work for Rinah, our AP, and me because of our determination to keep our in-person groups heterogeneously and socially balanced, and give priority consideration to siblings and childcare or work schedule requests. Our in-person cohort-groups are all nearly at their maximum limits to meet social distancing requirements within our classrooms. At this time we are unable to take requests for cohort changes, and won’t be able to until after school begins when we have a clearer picture of our attendance numbers.
As you know, this has been an extremely challenging summer for school administrators and teachers. The DOE has rolled out policies that frequently have been announced to principals after the fact. We find ourselves in an on-going effort to catch up and make sense of them. A perfect case in point is with staffing.
At this time we are still unable to provide teacher assignments to you because we have a dilemma: We are short-staffed. DOE employees who can document they are in a higher risk category for contracting the virus have been granted medical accommodations to remain at home and teach remotely. To date, seven of our classroom teachers and several other staff have been approved, leaving us with a staffing shortage for our in-person classrooms.
Since July we have been told by our Chancellor’s office that they would assist us and “deploy personnel" with teaching licenses but to date there has been no attempt to assess each individual school's needs. I have been told by my supervisors to be “creative” to find solutions. I think I’m a pretty creative person, and I’ve been working on this all summer with a very smart team of principals, our own amazing school administrators - Rinah and Pamela, and a dedicated team of teachers. We have made some hard choices and filled some of the gaps, but we still can’t figure out how to create a teacher where there isn’t one. With only 10 ten weekdays to go till school opens we are now considering our last best option.
Our school budget was released in July with dramatic cuts for all building operations. We knew we would need the PTA’s help to make it through the year, that was a given, but there was no way for us to anticipate just how great our staffing needs would become as requests for medical accommodations started to accumulate. Thanks to last year’s excellent fund-raising efforts, our PTA has agreed to help us fill some of these gaps by funding the hiring of some long-term substitute teachers. These are not teachers culled from a random list, they are certified teachers who we respect and have positive working relationships with, and they are known to our community. They won’t simply fill a staffing need, these are educators who will do right by our children. We can only do this because of our PTA’s - and your - support and commitment to our school.
Additionally, while we are pleased to be able to accommodate the A/B Blended Learning model because of registration loss and the number of students who will be in full-remote learning, we are teetering very close to the edge of an A/B/C model which would provide an average of just one in-person day of instruction per week for each cohort-group. Like you, we want our in-person students to be in school as much as possible. We sincerely hope we don't have to make a change at this late date. If you are still considering opting for full remote learning, this is the time we need you to make a decision. As you already know, our remote classrooms will be taught by our own PS107 teachers.
We understand so many of our kids want to be back at school to see their teachers and friends, and you want that as well. We all want a successful school year in the “new normal” in which we live. But the fact remains that there are enormous constraints and limited resources. It may not be perfect, but we will give our all to make our plan work. Like Rumpelstiltskin, we will do our best to spin hay into gold.