July Owl Blog Post, AmPark Family Survey, Coffee Break with Kelly & Bonnie, & PreK/K Virtual Orientation
We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us - John Lewis
This summer blog post comes with the hope that you have had some time for both rest and fun. It is an atypical summer in that we are trying to both decompress from the challenges of the spring, while also perhaps experiencing some anticipatory anxiety about the fall.
On Monday, we held a Town Hall meeting to discuss the reopening models. It was a difficult meeting, in both the overcoming of auditory technical challenges as well as in the limited content that could be covered as so much remains unknown. Your presence and patience were deeply appreciated. The intention of the Town Hall was to discuss what is within our locus of control at this time regarding options for hybrid learning. So much of the planning is contingent on the guidance of state and city departments, including guidance around food services, busing, healthy and safety precautions and notification procedures. At this point, we are also waiting for the Governor's determination on the safe reopening of schools that is anticipated to be made during the first week of August.
A document with the Q&A from our Town Hall Meeting is linked here. At this time, we are sending a secondary survey with AmPark specific questions to further inform the planning of available options and other proposals. Decisions are ultimately contingent on staffing, the numbers of students opting into remote instruction, and city approval. It is likely, but not yet guaranteed, that it will be our school staff teaching the remote only groups. It is also possible that students will have an in-person teacher and a remote teacher. Students with additional considerations may also have the opportunity for more in-person days than remote. Administrators have engaged in further professional learning around models and considerations this week across the city. We are seeing what needs to be tackled, but also looking at opportunities to disrupt the status quo and inequities that school systems have long perpetuated.
To continue to stay connected to all of you and the discussion that began at our Town Hall we will have a follow up Coffee House Meeting with Kelly & Bonnie on July 29th at 3:30 p.m. Please bring your ideas, questions, concerns, or just be ready to share space with your AmPark Family (Links and codes will be posted here, to the blog, on Wednesday morning, so please be on the lookout and thank you!)
We are sending out another survey to build upon the results of the larger Department of Education survey and to aid in our planning. Your input on this survey is absolutely essential to addressing your needs. Please submit this survey by Friday, July 31st!
The DOE survey had 38% of families respond. Your voice is essential to the planning of a model that works best for our community! If 90% of our families respond, we will be raffling off a FitBit and a Bose speaker!
What we do know for certain is that remote instruction will be taking place in the fall, in some capacity or another. Our community is working hard to build upon successes of the spring, while also revamping the areas in need of further attention. We are working with our School Leadership Team and our Strategic Reopening Community to review community input and available recommendations to create an instructional program that makes the most of the many challenges that the world is facing. We know that there is no perfect plan and can only commit to doing our very best. Even this may fall short of your expectations. We ask for understanding in the difficulties of planning for the challenges we will face at a school level that the entire world is facing and have not yet found answers to. Parents (and teachers) are wondering how staff will help young students to keep their masks on or maintain social distancing. We have no guarantees for these concerns. When we look at the division in the nation over mask-wearing or when we go to the supermarket and people enter our personal space bubble, we can acknowledge that the challenges of the larger society will also be present in our small building. As the school leader, I very much wish I could wave a wand and make everyone comply with all safety precautions. I imagine so many of you wish the same thing. How quickly we could then put all of this behind us. What we can do for now is teach and model responsibility as a way of showing self-care and community care.
I would also like to note the concerns that many of our families have over the idea of learning loss. We acknowledge that remote learning was more successful for some students than for others for a variety of reasons. I ask that you give yourself and your children some grace in their current readiness level. Children around the world experienced disruptions to their formal learning. This is not an issue that affected only our school or our immediate community while everyone else went on in a typical fashion. Our children will share a common history of the challenges of this generation. Through everything, they learned about adaptability, innovation, and resilience. And they will continue to do so. True and meaningful learning does not happen in the box of the grade level. It accumulates over a lifetime. As a teacher, I learned ways of doing math that I failed miserably at as a student. Our children will have many opportunities to interact with content. We will make sure of it as educators. The time is not gone or lost. Our perception is the reality that our children see. If we can communicate to them that they are brave and kind and that they work hard, they will be far more capable of jumping back into the learning than if they feel “behind.” People, and children in particular, learn in so many ways and if our focus is on measuring progress toward standards (that are often interpreted in different ways across schools, districts, and states, and can change from year to year…) then we are not truly seeing their strengths and challenges. On the other hand, I will counter my sentiments with the agreement that we are committed to looking closely at our learners and developing curricula to bridge divides between grade levels as well as ensure competency in core academics areas. But, I emphasize that we are the sum of all of our parts.
Many families have been asking about ways that they can help this summer and we love you for it…
Crafty? The DOE has been discussing supplying PPE to schools, but we know that there will still be needs even outside of school, as well as a need to make masks more comfy for kids. DIY masks, ear savers, and necklace lanyards would be very welcome!
If your family is in need of some art therapy this summer, please feel free to begin to warm up our school environment with some original Public Service Announcement pieces around mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing.
Able to contribute?
Outdoor time could be maximized with some pop up tents and plastic/vinyl mats for sitting!
Supply lists will be posted soon in the coming weeks. Consider sponsoring or partially sponsoring an anonymous student’s supplies to reduce one worry for a family.
Everyone can help by submitting our survey!
Upcoming Events & Announcements:
-PK/K Virtual Orientation (other new families welcome to join as well!) July 29th at 12 p.m.
-Coffee House Meeting with Kelly & Bonnie! July 29th at 3:30 p.m. (Links and codes will be posted to the blog on Wednesday morning, so please be on the lookout and thank you!)
-The Chancellor’s Office will be hosting 3 additional Family and Student Information Sessions on July 28th, August 12th and August 27th: https://learndoe.org/face/
Want to continue all-remote learning in the fall? Let the DOE know by August 7th https://www.nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference
5 Minute Mindful Art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zon3YaC8Bt8
6 Mindfulness Activities for Families: https://www.parents.com/fun/activities/5-mindfulness-activities-you-can-do-as-a-family/