SPRING BREAK cancelled and other News from Claudia 4/6/20.
Mon, Apr 6 8:59am


I am attaching the recent letter from Claudia below, as of 4/5/20.  

Please disregard the Konstella reminder that Spring Break will happen this week.

See details below.  

Please stay safe - Thank you, Karri


Dear Earth School Families, 

I hope this email finds you all safe and healthy. I am writing to follow up with more details about Earth School's plan for remote learning for 4/9-4/10, and 4/13-4/17, and to share some information regarding the DOE’s recent decision about the use of Zoom for video conferencing. 


Cancellation of Spring Break: As I expressed in my email yesterday, we are sensitive to the fact that many Earth School families will have been looking forward to Spring Break as a time to pause, rest, and “un-plug” from the stresses, strains and challenges that so many are experiencing these days. At the same time, we know that for some Earth School families the structures, routines, and connections to school have been such a welcomed support in these trying times, that the thought of not having access to those supports during a Spring Break in which non-essential workers in New York are still under orders from the Governor to stay at home has, itself, been a source of stress and uncertainty. Additionally, there are families who are still awaiting devices from the DOE in order to be able to access the remote learning platforms, and have been experiencing the stress and worry of their child’s being disconnected from their classmates and teachers during these first two weeks of remote learning.


That is to say nothing of the very real need teachers have for some sort of slow down in the pace of work they’ve been maintaining since remote learning was announced. Our teachers, of course, recognize the importance of the essential service their work is providing to our community and the broader well-being of our city. However, remote learning was originally announced as a short-term endeavor with Spring Break intended as a respite, and the staff have been working themselves to exhaustion ever since to launch remote learning, establish structures and routines, and engage students--all from their homes, where they are also caring for families and attempting to tend to their own well-being and basic personal needs. The pace of work they took on when we thought Spring Break would provide a period of rest and relief is just not sustainable for the long haul.


Across this range of needs and circumstances, we are all contending with the shifting constraints and impacts of COVID on our lives and in the world around us, which speak to a consideration for flexibility. To that end, what we are currently planning for the remote learning days that would have been Spring Break time (4/9-4/10 and 4/13-4/17) reflects an attempt to account for the variety of needs in our community. 


We will continue to provide remote learning, just not in quite the same way we’ve been doing for the past two weeks. Instead, remote learning during this time will consist of: 

  • optional activities and assignments;

  • the opportunity for students to finish incomplete assignments/activities from their classrooms and from Tim, Vinny, and Emmy;

  • activities from our arts programming partners; 

  • opportunities for virtual “field trips” (being coordinated by District 1); 

  • grade-appropriate reading expectations (teachers will provide additional guidance on this); 

  • in some cases, teachers may re-post previously posted video content (there will be no “live” video meetings with classes during this time).


Additionally, just as some Earth School families may be observing religious holidays during the Spring Break, so will some staff members. Therefore, whereas during these recent weeks of remote learning teachers have fairly consistently been able to respond to emails from families within 24 hours within the school week, during the 4/9-4/10 and 4/13-4/17 time period, it may take longer for staff to respond (as much as 48 hours). George and I will be available via email during the school week to respond in case of emergencies. We have not yet received guidance from the DOE as to whether schools are expected to take student attendance during this time. We will update families once they clarify expectations durin this time period.


Teachers will be following up with more information particular to their classes and grade levels, but we wanted to give you all an early sense of what our general plan is. 


Zoom: Some of you have reached out to me regarding the news that the DOE is no longer permitting use of Zoom at this time, pending Zoom’s addressing of security and data privacy concerns (principals were notified of this Friday evening). They have asked schools to shift away from using Zoom as soon as possible. In schools like ours, that will take at least a few days to coordinate, as the DOE’s recommended platform for video conferencing requires students to use a separate set of credentials for log-in (not their Google accounts), and it will take some time for us to distribute those credentials to every family and teacher. We will be working on it this coming week, and given that the 4/9-4/10 and 4/13-4/17 remote learning days will not involve live video-conferencing, those days will give us time to work out the kinks. In the meantime, all staff are reviewing plans to see which live activities for this week could easily be shifted to Google Meet, and our tech coordinator will be providing guidance on the additional precautions teachers should take if hosting any Zoom meetings this week. 


As mentioned above, expect to receive more detailed information from your child(ren)'s teacher(s) in the coming days regarding remote learning for 4/9-4/10 and 4/13-4/17, and with respect to any changes to video conferencing tools they may be implementing this week.


Be well and take care,