Dear PS107 Families,
Happy Father’s Day to our 107 dads. It was great seeing so many of you and your kids at the car parade on Friday afternoon. What a happy event that was… with so many smiles and tears at the same time. It was so good to see you.
I want to give you with some more details about the proposed re-entry to the school building in September and some of the other factors that will weigh into all decisions we make. Please understand that NOTHING is certain at this juncture. While we are busy planning for all possibilities, the State and/or City will have the final say in the reopening of schools.
What I can tell you for certain is that all NYC principals have been told to expect a minimum of a 3% overall cut to our 2020-21 school budgets. Unlike most years at this point in June when we are already busy staffing our buildings for September, we have not even received our budgets yet. We have been told not to expert them until mid-July at the earliest, and this depends on Congress passing a stimulus package for education. Anticipating this would mean a minimum loss of about $140,000 to our school budget, we have planned to move some out of classroom teachers into classroom positions to compensate. This shift may just barely allow us to preserve all teaching staff. However, if the news is worse, we will have some very hard decisions to make and we may lose teachers and other staff.
In my last email I mentioned the two primary DOE proposals for a fall reopening: alternating days or alternating weeks. In a review of the square footage of our building with all spaces accounted for, and the number of students and staff who can be accommodated with the required social distancing measures, it currently appears we would need to be on an A-B-C schedule. At maximum capacity, our building can accommodate one third of our students and staff with social distancing protocols in place. With an alternating week schedule, students would have one week in-person, two weeks remote. With an alternating day schedule, each group - A, B and C - would have in-person instruction at most once out of every three days. This is anything but ideal, I know. In order to accommodate this number of students and staff, we also would need to utilize all spaces in the building for instruction including the cafeteria, the fourth floor, and some of our other smaller rooms and offices. This could mean that our specialty teachers would assist grade level teachers with classroom instruction instead of teaching their specialty subjects.
As we try to envision what a hybrid model could look like in terms of classroom space across the building, we do know that the current CDC guidelines for schools set a high bar for safe re-entry. They recommend that only students and school personnel are permitted in the building at all times; that students remain in their classrooms with their teacher throughout the day, lunch included, and that movement in the building is restricted. There would be no in-person Art, Music, Science, Technology, Library, or PE in the traditional sense that we’ve come to expect. Any of these enrichments that we are still able to provide would either happen entirely remotely or within the confines of the homeroom classroom, and not in the specialty teachers' classrooms. Students would remain socially distanced from their peers at all times within the classroom, and there could be no sharing of classroom materials such as math manipulatives and library books. In addition, students and teachers most likely would be required to wear face masks at all times except when eating. Outdoor play in very small groups with no shared equipment would likely be permissible in the large yard as long as students remain socially distanced, but we would be unable to use the small yard because of the climbing equipment. This is the grim reality we face when school reopens. However, if the virus subsides during the summer, these guidelines could be eased somewhat.
The Chancellor’s letter last week included an important survey for families about returning to school. The survey is due tomorrow, Monday 6/22. The link is below (return to school 2020). Please fill it out to let the DOE know where you stand on reopening. Also, Pamela sent you our 107 survey regarding scheduling preferences (the link is also below). Please return that to us by Tuesday 6/23.
There is no good or easy answer to reopening schools. Once it begins it is likely to be a long and difficult process before things start to feel more normal. And right now, on June 21st, no real answers are on the immediate horizon. Please rest assured, I will keep you informed this summer as answers to some of our questions begin to surface.