August 21, 2020
I am writing to you today to share our FAQ document that we have compiled from your questions during our town hall meetings or sent to us over the past month. As we speak, we are at work planning for the upcoming school year: planning for our hybrid model, as well as remote learning. This is necessary because we will have students in a full remote cohort and we will also need to be prepared to pivot to full remote learning at any time. The planning has not been easy. It has led us down a path of questions that we are working incredibly hard to answer. As I have mentioned before, we are waiting for some key pieces of the puzzle that we are slowly receiving. We have a growing list of students who have opted in to full remote learning. This number changes every day since families have the option to opt in to remote learning at any time. We do ask, if you are considering fully remote learning for the fall, please fill out the department of education survey as soon as possible so that we can adequately plan.
Our staff has been working on planning out the core curriculum for the first trimester, modifying units to focus on the most important lessons to support student success within the learning standards. The staff will be in the building setting up classrooms and spaces to ensure we can have socially distanced set ups. This is not a small task. We are incredibly grateful to our custodial staff for working with us as a team as we prepare for the school year.
I was recently asked point-blank by a parent, “Do you not want children to come back to in-person learning?” I thought it would be important to answer that question for all of you. I know I speak for myself and so many others when I say that we want to have in-person learning. However, I stand by the statement that my District 15 colleagues and I previously put forth. We are still working on plans that have holes due to many unknowns. We have two days to be with the entire staff before students arrive on September 10th. In that time we need to finish setup, turn-key new safety procedures and trauma-informed professional development, answer questions, and tweak the first few weeks of curriculum. We have tried hard to do all of this over the summer. We are struggling to juggle classroom and teacher assignments as numbers keep changing, and we are still waiting for medical accommodation approvals for staff members. I simply share this so that everyone can understand the limitations we are working with.
So many of our staff members have been busy working to get school ready to begin. We have teams working on curriculum plans, social justice and equity lessons, and securing anti-racist professional development, as well as participating in these trainings. We have created eight weeks of social emotional lessons to support our students during these very uncertain times. We have a team working to schedule the in-person learning days and planning arrival/dismissal procedures and another team creating the Welcome Back packet that you will receive next week. They are a testament to our amazing community. Additionally, we have many parents who are helping with the Back to School Committee. The PTA Executive Board and School Leadership Team have been great resources to us throughout the summer. We are incredibly grateful to all of you. It has been remarkable to see the undertaking made by so many to support our efforts as a community.
Next week we will share cohort information, specifically, which days your child will be coming for in-person learning (hybrid A/B schedule). We are working very hard to accommodate all of the special requests we have received. While we want to be able to share specific student groupings and teachers, due to the daily moving parts and numbers, we do not anticipate being able to do that until the week of August 31st. Given the numbers of students in the remote only cohort and other changes, we need to be flexible regarding the A-K, L-Z last name split proposed for hybrid learning Groups A and B. A small number of students may be placed in the alternate hybrid group to allow for social distancing.
In his Employee Town Hall on Aug 19, the Chancellor said that NYC is asking the state for flexibility with the school calendar, which suggests that the calendar is currently a work in progress. Until we have concrete information on any change/delay in start, we are operating under the assumption that September 10 will be the start of the school year.
Thank you to everyone in our community for your continued support during this time.